Unfolding Worlds: The Symbolism and Evolution of Folded Cloth and Language in the Yoruba Diaspora
(Royal College of Art)
Paper short abstract:
This paper interrogates the non-linearity of cloth, customs and culture/language among the Yoruba and particularly investigates the evolution of folded cloth in Yoruba diasporic life/usage.
Paper long abstract:
This paper interrogates the non-linearity of cloth, customs and culture/language among the Yoruba and particularly investigates the evolution of folded cloth in Yoruba diasporic life/usage. Culture must be vigorous to survive. It must possess an inherent dynamism and flexibility to withstand the vagaries of time, dislocations and dispossession as well as an ability to incorporate the natural evolution of new and/or imposed knowledge and inevitable progress in the context of a globalised aesthetic. 'Fold over folds: such is the status of the two modes of perception, or of microscopic and macroscopic processes. That is why the unfolded surface is never the opposite of the fold, but rather the movement that goes from some to the others. (Deleuze, Gilles) I analogise folded cloth, the prototypical mode of wearing cloth among the Yoruba with the complex 'inner wisdom' of Yoruba language usage - the multi-layered meanings of ostensibly everyday speech. Whether the intimate folds of an iro preparatory to its tucking in on the appropriate side, the symbolism of the act of 'setting' an agbada 'sleeve' or the origami intricacies of a gele, the Yoruba have traditionally used the art of folded cloth to express sensibilities and opposition. How does this understanding translate in the translocation - Stories/cloth with meanings within meanings/ a need to hold on to one's heritage while participating robustly in (and possibly influencing) the aesthetic milieu to which migration has transported one.
Anthropological border crossings and migratory aesthetics