Yoruba Aṣọ Oke: classic & modern, for every age, in every age – Tola Adenle

everyAGEfloridaNaming Ceremony, Gainesville, Florida, 1970.  Mother, this Blogger, in [sort of modern]  Alaari Aso Oke.  [Photo Credit: Depo Adenle] New parents and baby in their efficiency apartment at University Terrace Apts, Gainesville, Florida.  December 7, 1970. everyAGEfloridaGBBaby above marks 1st birthday in aso oke Sanyan variant, Flavet Married Students Housing, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, November 1971.  One question persists in my mind:  why am I bad at tieing gele?   Even this little girl’s laughter seems to be at my expense:  the possibility of the gele falling off! [Photo Credit:  Depo Adenle].


Another naming ceremony, Bodija, Ibadan, 1982.  Blogger in modern take of omolangidi Aso Oke while older brother, Dr. Sola Adenle holds baby.  Third in picture is baby’s Aunt, Owoade]  Photo Credit:  Depo Adenle.


Another homage to Yoruba heritage three decades later in Washington, D.C. Metro.  Baby in 1st picture – all grown up – and husband hold their first baby for Christmas picture.  December 1999.


“Baby” in first picture smiles at the world while wearing outfit made from what mother wears in first picture.  Studio Pix, Washington, D.C. Metro, 1974. EVERYageOSOGBOTwo different alaari variants for two little girls at funeral of Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba S.A. Adenle, Osogbo, 1975. [Black & white photo does not show] EVERYageBODIJAFour sisters, three wearing complete [4-pieces] outfits in two different modern aso oke patterns; the youngest could only manage three pieces!  Ibadan, 1985 Easter Day. [Photo:  Depo Adenle] EVERYage1986 Little Sister turns on smile & lady-like  style! 1986. [Photo Credit:  Depo Adenle] graduation_NEW Medical School graduation BLOGGERs nephew Early 1980s Younger brother to father of new Univ. of Ibadan Medical School graduate, Bolanle Adamolekun, at Elumelus on Onikoko Avenue, Ibadan during reception, early 1980s – wearing Sanyan, Number 1 of the three Yoruba aso oke classics; appropriate for such occasions. TOP PIX  L to R:  Friend of grad; Deji, Bolanle, Lawyer Adamolekun, Chief N.K. Adamolekun (by then retired Registrar, Univ. of Ibadan), Blogger, Dr. Wole Adamolekun & Kunle Ayodele.

everyAGEvegas70thAt Dr. Depo Adenle’s  70th birthday party in Vegas, December 2011.  L to R: Louanne with modern aso oke to ward off the December chill; Depo & Blogger wear etu, one of the three classics. [Photo Credit:  Biodun Ogunmola]


40th Wedding Anniversary at New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, January 2010 saw blogger & spouse in Western outfits which I dressed up in Ma gbagbe ile – do not forget your homeland, to borrow the title of Late Dayo Dedeki’s Book of Yoruba folk songs.  A modern Ebirra-style woven aso oke in vibrant magenta, pale gold and other colors as iborun helped against the cool Big Easy chill of January 2010.


Here are more photographs illustrating modern/classic aso oke as used by Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria.  They were formerly in another posting: Blogger's Sister celebrates 40th Bday mid1980s_NEW

Blogger’s sister, middle, celebrates 40th birthday.


The Blogger presents a gift on behalf of the Adenle Family to bride’s family at Traditional Ibo engagement ceremony, Agbor, Delta State, Nigeria, 1976. Blogger is wearing a 2-piece Sanyan hybrid made into iro & gele – wrapper & head tie. The buba – blouse – is made with a lace fabric in a style that young women now call Oleku. See December 6 posting: http://emotanafricana.com/2012/12/06/yoruba-modern-wears-o-le-ku-the-more-things-change-tola-adenle/


Olori Adeyoyin Adenle wearing an ensemble with omolangidi  iro (wrapper) and looks on with admiration at an Afin, Osogbo guest trying on her aso oke gift.  1950s.

World heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, wearing the Nigerian  Agbada, shouts to the crowd of youngsters who met him on his arrival in Lagos, Nigeria. (June 1, 1964). Source: Sacbee<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
More Vintage Nigerian photos

Another aso oke gift.  See who’s here!

The one and only Muhammad Ali wore sanyan when he visited Lagos in 1964 soon after becoming the world heavyweight champion.  I believe the aso oke was gifted to him by late J. Modupe Johnson, the flamboyant Lagos-born Minister in charge of culture-related matters.

Ali was then known as Cassius Clay.  Here he is, the recently-crowned world champion, and would-be Greatest King of the Ring, donning Yoruba’s King of Clothes the Sanyan.

{World heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, wearing the Nigerian  Agbada, shouts to the crowd of youngsters who met him on his arrival in Lagos, Nigeria. 
(June 1, 1964).Source: Sacbee.                   http://nigerianostalgia.tumblr.com/


Oba Adenle and the Williamses

In this picture, Oba Adenle can be seen posing with Mr. Williams (the Manager for Colonial-era Standard Bank, now First Bank) and his wife both in variants of classic complete  aso oke; Mrs. Williams’ buba is made of imported manufactured lace fabric.


Oba S.A. Adenle, Ataoja of Osogbo wearing complete aso oke for men: sokoto, (trousers), gbariye (underwear of same fabrics), agbada (big top) and fila (cap) at Osogbo.  1960s.  [Photo Credit:  Depo Adenle, 1967.]

EVERYageHOUSTONTwo sisters – blogger on the right – at Houston, Texas wedding of a nephew, December 1996.  The iro & buba are of cream-color cotton thread aso oke while the gele iborun/ipele head cover & shawl are of brown/cream check-design aso oke.   [Photo Credit:  Depo Adenle.]

Two Friends at a Lagos wedding in the 80s

Two friends at a Lagos wedding, 1980s.  Their outfits – white iro & buba – and the aso oke gele & iborun must have been aso ebi, group uniformed wears worn by many.  See December 6 posting and earlier postings on Yoruba Aso Oke:  sanyan, etu & alaari.


Picture above shows four sisters and a first cousin, the bigger girls in Sanyan aso oke variant which they had worn earlier for grandfather’s funeral at which their mothers wore Classic Sanyan aso oke at Iju, Akure North in November 1987.

The encore:  girls wore clothes again to New Year Day’s church service in 1990 at Boulder City, NV.

Photo Credit:  Depo Adenle, January 1990.


Mike OLOPADEs grad at Howard 1974

Masters degree graduation ceremony at Howard University, Washington, D.C. 1974.  L to R: Debbie & Mike Olopade; Blogger & spouse, Depo Adenle.  Blogger wears a mish-mash of fabrics:  sanyan variant for iro& iborun/ipele, damask gele (head wrap) and lace for buba (top).  Little girl is Yetunde Olopade.

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6 Comments on “Yoruba Aṣọ Oke: classic & modern, for every age, in every age – Tola Adenle”

  1. Mofolusho Rosanwo Says:

    Can I use naming ceremony photograph in https://emotan.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/everyagebdjchou.jpg
    for publication of my picture book for children ‘Called to be treasured’. It is about the birth and early development of a black girl within the wonderful plan of God for her life. Please ask any questions as well as let me know the conditions for use.
    Yours Sincerely




    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Mofoluso,

      Using the picture of the naming ceremony of my child which was used to illustrate YORUBA’S ASO OKE would not be okay for your book on naming “a black girl within the wonderful plan of God for her life”.

      If you need an illustration, please find another photograph.




  2. Remi O Says:

    A family history through Aso-oke? Who would’ve thought!
    E se pupo.



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Remi,

      Iwo na se gan – Thanks to you, too!

      Messing everything up in the posting process when I discovered my error did not take a moment to decide everything had to be re-done.

      I’m very glad about the response it’s gotten because I also ran it through my twitter account which I’ve used all of under a dozen times in eighteen months. My stats have always been great whenever I have postings on the Yoruba clothes but this has been really great.

      An avid reader of my essays from the weekly newspaper days once wrote he’s been so impressed with the clothes and their history that he was planning his daughter’s wedding around the classics. Now the young lady’s wedding comes up in February in Nigeria and since I’ve been invited, I can hardly wait to see which of the three great classics the bride’s parents will wear.

      Sincere regards,



  3. Dele-Daramola Says:

    One cannot but marvel at the richness and elegance of Yoruba fashion culture from time immemorial. Something worthy of pride!



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