A wrapper, as the name implies, is a piece of cloth that wraps around a person’s body. So, your scarf or duvet could pass for a wrapper if you use it as such.
The ìró is the traditional name for a wrapper amongst the Yoruba people in southwestern Nigeria. It is pronounced /hee-row/ and it means having to do with wrapping.
A wrapper most certainly wraps around a person. While the ìró is majorly used as a loincloth, some people casually tie it around their waist.
The use of ìró is an integral part of most West African cultures and it dates back and beyond the colonisation of any country in the African continent.
The ìró and Yoruba people are two inseparable entities, it could be said that those two are in love. If you are Yoruba, and a lover of your culture, you are probably getting excited already. Let’s get into 5 amazing facts about the ìró;
5 Amazing Facts About the ìró
1. It is Majorly a Womenswear
The ìró is worn by both men and women in most cultures except in Yoruba land. The Yoruba people find it simply inappropriate to see a man in a wrapper. That could be because traditionally, men are known to do muscle jobs and would be limited by the constraints of the ìró.
2. The Length of Your Wrapper can Explain Your Social Status
Women of all ages and social classes wear their ìró as they wish. Above the knee, knee-length or ankle length depending on their style and the occasion.
However, it is common for young unmarried ladies and stewards to wear their wrappers at knee-length, usually with a bùbá- a blouse. It is quite rare to see married and prestigious women wear ìró with it’s hem around their knees. They are ideally known for ankle lengthen wrappers.
3. It Could be Used for Various Purposes
The ìró can serve multiple purposes. Apart from being a really classy outfit, it can be used to back a child, as a bedspread or for other things.
Also, in many traditional settings, it is used to decorate the palace and the houses of influential people. For decorations, the ìró is usually àdìre— tie and dye.
4. It is a Statement Piece.
Of course, it is worn by all and sundry, ìró is a key attire for celebration amongst the Yoruba people. Brides wear them on their wedding days to steal the show. Women also wear them for important occasions and usually pair them with a nice bùbá ( a traditional blouse) of the same material, a gèlè (head tie) and statement accessories like earrings, necklace, bracelets and anklets.
5. It was Once a Currency
Calm down, let me explain this, during the days of trade by barter, the ìró was one expensive piece you could trade. Since an ìró speaks class, women wanted them and men wanted to buy them for their wives.
It was therefore easy to find people who were eager to take your ìró in exchange for what you need. And because beautiful patterns were usually owned by rich people, the beautiful ìró was highly esteemed.
Best Fabrics For The Ìró
The ìró has different names depending on the tribe but everyone agrees that it is a stylish and decent way of doing what clothes should do, cover nakedness.
An ìró can be made from different materials and worn for both casual and ceremonial purposes. The material determines the occasion:
• The Lace
Usually the most common material these days, lace is also known as the shine-shine cloth as it is characterised by glowing appeal and shiny stones. It is absolutely regal.
Also known as the African wax print, Ankara is arguably the oldest, commonest and most loved of all types of fabrics. Ankara does not discriminate as it can be rocked by the old, young, bound and free. It suits everyone who comes in contact with it.
Worn by royals and influential people, the Aso-Oke is a beautiful sight to behold and it can be of any colour. It is a firm material that makes its wearer feel confident.
After wearing a lace or Ankara Iro, the Aso-oke is wrapped around the waist to accentuate a woman’s curves and give a regal finish to her look.
Wrappers are very comfortable and allow your skin to breathe, did you learn something new or have you ever rocked one? Do let us know in the comments section below.