X76.1698 Cloth mat

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Cloth mat
(ewhere opha)
Urhobo peoples
Dyed, woven and stiched straw
L: 154 cm, W: 108 cm (L: 60.6 in, W: 42.5 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Mrs. W. Thomas Davis, in memory of W. Thomas Davis. X76.1698


Urhobo women transform simple materials into elaborate tapestries to honor girls as they become young women. Special mats like this one (ewhere opha) drape the “throne” where the opha, or initiate, sits in state and receives visitors bearing gifts of money. The patterns woven into the mat may protect her. After being displayed when she receives visitors–and is exposed to jealous rivals–the mat hangs next to her bed and may help keep witches and evil at bay (S. Foss 1978).
Source: Anderson, Martha G. and Peek, Philip M. ed. (2002): “Ways of the Rivers: Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta”‚ Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 273