A’nger is a fabric by the TIV speaking people of Benue State, Nigeria. It is a traditionally hand-woven fabric with black and white yarns to create beautiful features that make the cloth appear like live Zebra skin. Sometimes called and linked with its cultural source as A’nger U Tiv. Traditionally, A’nger is normally used in the decoration of illustrious sons and daughters of Tiv, worn by Tiv elders or chiefs during Tiv traditional council which is usually held in Gboko, Benue State, Nigeria – the tradional headquarters of all Tiv people as well as the permanent place for the seat of the Tor-Tiv, the highest chief who rules over Tiv land.
Traditional weaving is an important cottage industry among the Tiv and is one of the enterprises that is passed from one generation to another. Many of those engaged in it inherited it as a family business. Over the years, master weavers have produced brilliant and popular designs that have earned Benue State as a notable centre for the fabric in the country. Though the weaving technique is slow, it is efficient for its needs and does not take more than one person to weave, dye and package for sale. It is a highly respected industry which has created a local economy for the people of Benue state, Nigeria.
The A’nger fabric pattern is generally believed to have been adopted first by the Kwande extraction before its further spread across the Tiv land and among other tribes alien to the culture but love to be identified with the Tiv origin. The Kwande local government was widely believed to be the ancestral home of the Tiv people engaged in cotton production, and its trade blossomed in the Benue valley of the Nigerian nation. The early Dzurgba clan of Kwande and its family members have made a successive mastery in the art of knitting the handloom outfit and celebrated the culture as the existing pattern of the people’s way of dressing. Overtime, the Dzurgba family modified and improved the method of production. In the boom days, the primary stages began from spinning harvested cotton wool into thread, which would then be laid out to dry with series of weaving stages leading to the actual knitting of the traditional fabric. Then due to the drastic decline in the production of cotton by Tiv people, the thread had to be bought from Kano, by the Dzurgbas. Limited cultivation of cotton still goes on in order to produce certain special and exotic brands of the fabric which can only be achieved through traditional spinning of cotton, all the way to the finishing stages. The Dzurgba family is known and honoured for its mastery in the native cloth business, from the age of four, children in the Dzurgba lineage are introduced into the art of weaving Tiv traditional cloths and as a result are proficient before they become teenagers. Middle men who retail the fabric can be found in many areas of Makurdi, the Benue State capital and mostly in the North-Bank area for easy accessibility by lovers of the fabric and the traditional Tiv settlements remain important places where trading takes place. The price of the fabric varies with color, pattern and texture.
There are 12 types of the Tiv Textile, identified based on their pattern and texture but the universally popular, most respected and highly valued is the A’nger which is the only one used to decorate a non-tiv in honour of the Tiv traditional title.
The Mura U Tiv is also held in high esteem because it defines the peculiarity of the people and it is also the most expensive.
Others are Ivetyoo, which is worn by most highly placed women to depict their social status and is believed to be an exclusive right of the women folk.
The rest are Shudeen, Gbev-Whaa, Godo, Gurugu, Chado, Deremen, Gbagir, Lishi and Tugudu which is used for burying the dead.
The A’nger is easily identified as a piece of headwear and wrapper over a white blouse for the women and the men dressed in neatly flowing wrappers neatly tied across their shoulders under a pair of trousers.
A’nger is more than a culture to the Tivs, it remains an object of historical value with so much pride attached to it. Interestingly, the fabric can be used to make designs on dresses, shoes, caps and other attires. Click here to see the diverse collection of the A’nger Tiv fabric we have in stock.
The colours (black and white) on the A’nger symbolize Honesty and Sincerity respectively in speaking or dealing with issues and this defines the character of a traditional Tiv man. The fabric features reflect the peaceful nature of the people; the black and white symbolically represent the nature Zebra in the wild, one among the most peaceful, harmless and beautiful looking animals. This literally signifies the true nature of the Tiv people concerning issues of life or existence. A Tiv man believes in taking a clear stand in any issue concerning life. The A’nger is generally used as a form of cultural identification. Young boys and girls of Tiv and non-Tiv origin alike wear it during schools’ cultural week to showcase their culture. Because of the beautiful nature of the cloth, most individuals who are non-Tiv wear the cap or tie it as the case may be.