Symbolism in Enu-Ani dress

Nwoko, Theresa
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Texas Woman's University

The purpose of this study was to investigate the symbolic significance of eight selected traditional design motifs and the colors used on the native hand-woven cloth of the Enu-Ani women weavers. These design motifs are commonly in use by the midwestern Ibos from three divisions--Oshimilli, Aniocha, and Ika--of Bendel State, Nigeria . The meanings of the design motifs and their relationship to usage by males and females relative to age and to past and present time periods were studied. A total of 240 women weavers were randomly selected for an interview. They represented 24 villages: 10 weavers each from eight villages in each division. The weavers were indigenous to their villages, had 30 years or more experience, and are still engaged in weaving. An interview schedule was developed and administered to each weaver at her place of work by the researcher or one of two trained assistants. A tape-recorder was used to assure that no important information was omitted. The data were analyzed using percentages, frequency distributions, and the chi-square test for independence to test the hypotheses. The results were interpreted with the . 01 level of probability representative of significant results and .001 probability level representative of highly significant results. In conclusion, males and females of the present time use more of the design motifs than the males and the females of the past. The females of all ages use more of the design motifs on their clothing than the males of all ages. The Enu-Ani males use almost the same symbolic motifs as the females until their old age; then the males tend to use fewer motifs until they wear barely no design motifs on their native cloth. All color dyes available to the weavers for purchase locally are used for the symbolic design motifs whether the motifs are to be used for male or female clothing.

Nigerians -- Costume, Weaving -- Nigeria, Signs and symbols -- Nigeria, Clothing -- Dress