Etsako Traditional Wedding Attires: Afemai

Etsako is one of the ethnic groups in Edo State, Nigeria. The cultural attire of this tribe is predominantly a woven Aso-oke fabric with black and white stripes. With recent trends and modernisation, the Etsako traditional wedding attire is slowly going extinct.

Who Are The Etsako People and Afemai Group?

Etsako peoples were originally an AFẸMAI N’ẸDO family called Ivbiosakon. This in the Benin language means children of Etsako. This family was split into three, representing East, Etsako West and Etsako Central.

These three local government areas are part of the six in Edo North Senatorial District. Currently, Afemai is also known as Etsako because the latter make up a larger part of the family. Etsako also became the name given to the Afemai central language.

In recent times, the tribe’s attire is no longer worn at Etsako traditional weddings, as such, you would hardly find any wedding ceremony in the tribe where the couple dons the outfit. Rather, you would commonly see etsako brides wearing the Benin attire which is known as the Ashobi (a blouse, long skirt, and headgear) worn by the brides and Ukpesan which is worn by the groom.

Traditional Marriage Rites In Etsako, Benin City

Etsako men may also wear a long shirt (Awulu n’ode), a wrapper (ode irọzu), and a cap (Aru); which is the traditional attire of Edo men.

Their women also dress like the Niger Delta people in double wrappers; one tied from their waist downwards (Oku) and another from the chest to the lower edges of the first wrapper (aye).

The traditional colour of these Edo wrappers is usually red velvet (ọlilẹ) and white though they can be in other colours.

Eka beads of different lengths, shapes, and sizes are used to complement the ensemble. The native names of the clothes (Ede / Ode / Ukpo / Ema) and accessories (isẹsiri) worn by the Etsako people in the North-Ibie dialect of the Etsako tribe are as follows:

Agbanoku – belt

Agogo obọ – a wristwatch

Aru – cap

Awulu – shirt

Eka – bead

Ẹkuẹ – shoe

Ibata – boots

Igele – headgear

Ivie – pearl

Iyeri – earrings

Isiniki – scarf

Ode akuegbe – cover cloth

Ode irọzu – wrapper

Ọkwi – ring

Ọtsaka – trouser

Ugegbe alo – eyeglasses

If you are planning a traditional wedding for an Etsako couple and looking for inspiration to recreate the people’s cultural attire, here are a few looks to help out with your search.

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