Many forms of art that have been practiced for centuries are still significant in Yoruban society today. This includes wood carving, cloth-dyeing, weaving, pottery making, basketry, leather working, and bead working, some of which are focused on more closely below.
Traditionally, indigo was the most common colour used to dye cloth as it was easily obtained from a local plant. Today, a variety of commercially produced colours are used. Stencils are used to create a wide variety of designs.
Bead-working is a particularly prestigious line of work, as beads are worn by the most rich and powerful in society. For instance, glass and stone beads are traditionally used to make the crowns worn by the royal Yoruba, known as the ‘Oba’. Whilst some elaborate materials are employed, such as coral, use of plastic has become increasingly common due to good availability, affordability and ease to work with.
Most of commodities produced by leather working include sandals, bags, and fans. These are often made from goat skins and may be dyed black, red (from bulrush millet), yellow (from ginger and lime juice), blue (from indigo), green (from copper and lime juice) and untanned hide.
Pottery makers may produce a range of items, from practical, utilitarian wares to more symbolic, representational items. However, the majority of goods produced are home wares; for instance, they may be used for cooking or storage. Traditionally, pottery making is exclusively undertaken by women.