Primary Source

Yoruba Handwoven Baby Wrapper, Nigeria

Traditional Yoruba cloth


Handwoven by a woman in Nigeria, this traditional Yoruba cloth that is tied around the mother’s waist is used as a baby carrier. The baby sits snugly against her mother’s back; her legs wrap around her mother’s waist. The mother’s hands remain free to work or carry other things. The Yoruba wrapper measures 72 inches (183 cm) long and 16 inches (41 cm) wide. Hand loomed of cotton, the ends are plain-woven with a fringed ending, but at the center where the baby sits, the carrier is embellished with thick cut-pile weaving which provides warmth, absorbency, and decoration. An additional, modern embellishment is the use of lurex—a shiny, synthetic thread—interwoven with the cotton. This piece is from the collection of Christopher D. Roy, a scholar and expert on the material culture of West Africa. The piece was made during the 20th century. This method of transporting a baby can be compared with other methods elsewhere in the world and from different periods. Different methods of carrying babies reflect varied meanings about the relation between mother and child, the period of carrying infants, and the mothers' daily work. Opinions also differ on the benefit or harm in constraining infants in wrappers and carriages for the sake of mothers and the needs of family, kin and community.


"Yoruba Baby Wrapper," Roy Collection, SLU Digital Collection, SLU ID#2007.61.64, courtesy of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University (accessed November 24, 2009). Annotated by Susan Douglass.

How to Cite This Source

"Yoruba Handwoven Baby Wrapper, Nigeria," in World History Commons, [accessed April 16, 2024]