Igbo legend tells us that weavers from that
village were among those to do so in the late nineteenth century. Using
imported threads in an array of vibrant colours, and inspired by cloth imports
from England, India, and elsewhere, the legendary weaver Dada Nwakwata began
weaving designs of her invention.
Said to be the founder of weaving as it is now known in her villages, Dada Nawkwata has remained a major role model for Akwete weavers, who like her claim they can weave any cloth design set before them.
Akwete cloth refers specifically to the cloth woven in the Ndoki town of Akwete in Ukwa East local Government Area of Abia State.
The mid- to late nineteenth century, weaving grew from part-time activity that occupied some women, to full-time occupation in which all Akwete women participated. At this period, Akwete weavers responded to the patronage of neighboring Ijo peoples of the Niger- Delta, devising novel techniques to create desired patterns in new materials.
Just like most women's weaving throughout Nigeria, Akwete weaving is done on an upright frame loom with continuous warp and other
The basic Akwete cloth is usually made of cotton thread whilst the decorative patterns and effects are added with thread of heavier texture or contrasting colours.
The elaborately modern versions of the cloth could be made entirely of , rayon, polyester and lurex. The decorative motifs have names, which are suggested by their appearance or the innovators of such motifs.
In former times, only royal families could wear the 'Ikaki' motif, and if an ordinary person attempts to wear it, he could be sold into slavery. The weavers claim that certain motifs and designs were revealed to them in the dreams
Materials Used For Production
The materials used in the production of Akwete cloth are as follow: Loom, heddle,beater/sword,yarn/ twine /brass spatula, rope, shuttle, wax
Women usually tie the cloth as a wrap-around skirt (wrapper) with a blouse of lightweight machine-made fabric. The cloth is usually woven in pairs and the Igbo women wear the two wrappers on public occasions, the first one tied to reach the ankle and the second one to mid-calf length.
While the Men use the fabric to sew traditional shirts popularly known as jumper, Wokor, or Etibo. These they wear over for special occasions. The cloth may also be woven in smaller versions that could be used as curtains, cushion, table, lectern, or bed covers.