The Akwete cloth is a colourful handwoven fabric made from hemp, wool, silk, cotton and palm, originating from the Abia State in Eastern Nigeria, originally woven by only Igbo women of the town Akwete.
Its original name was “Akwi Miri,” which can be translated to “towel” or “cloth of water” in English. The coarse Akwete cloth It is primarily used in by masquerades and warriors whereas the softer variant is used in everyday-wear, ropes, religious occasions, towels and handbags.
It’s quite interesting that nowadays men weave these fabrics too with its rise in popularity in Nigeria. However, they use horizontal looms to weave the cloth while the women use vertical looms.
There are four main patterns of the Akwete fabric which range from plain to vibrant and complex designs. These patterns include traditional ritual objects, the Nigerian flag, domestic animals etc.
The Akwete has received some international recognition being displayed in the Textile Museum of Canada, The British Museum as well as in an exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington D.C.