R6040 Buba and Iro

blouse and skirt made of strip woven cotton fabric in dark and pale blue stripes

Women’s Blouse (Buba) and Wrap Skirt (Iro), Nigeria, Africa, 1970s

This indigo buba, iro and gele was bought by the owner, Rounke, in Nigeria in the late 1970s. She remembers wearing it to a party when she was a university student in the early 1980s. It is made from woven blue striped cotton fabric. A buba is a tailored blouse, customarily worn by Yoruba women with an iro (wrap skirt), pele (shawl) and gele (headwrap) as a matching outfit. Collected as part of the Fashioning Africa project.

Creator: unknown

Place: Nigeria, West Africa, Africa

Date: 1970s

a woman wearing blue aso-oke student party in the 1980s
Rounke Williams at the Afro-Carribbean traditional night, at Reading University where she was a student, in 1982.

Brighton Museum recorded an oral history with Rounke where she discussed her memories of shopping for and wearing aso-oke. She said of this outfit:

When I was at the University of Reading, I became the president of the Africa Society and I wore the aso oke I’ve donated to the museum there because it [the traditional aso oke] wasn’t going to get ruined – you know this might have got ruined [indicates aso oke brought to the interview]. That was a cheap, cheap type that my friend’s mother had given me. When I say ‘cheap, cheap’ I don’t mean it was cheap, it wasn’t cheap but it was cheaper than this. [Yeah] And I wore that – because I was president of the society, I felt I needed to look presidential and I did!

Rounke wearing aso-oke at Brighton Museum
Rounke Williams (pen name Ireti Coker) dressed in aso-oke, at the ‘Writing Our Legacy’ event at Brighton Museum, preparing to read her story ‘The Benefits of Being a ‘Wife’, 2016.