Adire design (textile design)


Adire is a major craft among the women in southwestern Nigeria, it is well-known among the people of Egbaland in Ogun state but also throughout Yoruba land. Adire means “tie and dye”. It is a material designed with wax-resist methods that will create patterned designs in a amazing array of tints and hues. Adire are made by resist-dyeing which includes creating a pattern by treating certain parts of the fabric in some way to prevent them absorbing dye. Fabrics were comprised of two segments of factory produced cotton shirting sewn together to form a shape that was roughly square.

Adire’s intricate design is the result of hand painted work carried out mostly by women which they wear generally worn as wrappers or used as an adornment. Perhaps more than any art form, textile reflects the culture from which they come and Adire textiles are a viable means of which the rich Yoruba cultural heritage and ideas could be conveyed to other cultures of the outside world. A professional decorator for Adire is traditionally referred to as “Aladire“. In the traditional society, the Adire is made, designed, dyed and sold as well as worn by these Yoruba women who pass on the techniques from one generation to another.


Today, there are three primary resist techniques used in Nigeria:

  • Oniko: this process involves tying raffia around hundreds of individual corn kernels or pebbles to produce small white circles on a blue background. The fabric can also be twisted and tied on itself or folded into stripes.
  • Alabere: Stitching raffia onto the fabric in a pattern prior to dyeing. The raffia palm is stripped, and the spine sewn into the fabric. After dyeing the raffia is usually ripped out, although some choose to leave it in and let wear and tear on the garment slowly reveal the design.
  • Eleko: Resist dyeing with cassava paste painted onto the fabric. Traditionally done with different size chicken feathers, calabash carved into different designs are also used, in a manner similar to block printing. Since the early twentieth century, metal stencils cut from the sheets of tin that lined tea chests have also been used.

New Adire Dyeing

In the twenty-first century, the new beautiful adire keeps on to meet fashion difficulties and to be a choice to machine prints. In continually changing patterns, new adire appeals to the fashion-conscious Yoruba in the urban and rural areas. In Nigeria one can at present purchase indigo-dyed adire oniko and eleko made by older women in Abeokuta and Ibadan and by artisans at the Nike Center for the Arts and Culture in Oshogbo where the artist Nike Davies-Okundaye trains students in traditional adire techniques. Be that as it may, progressively, the admirer of indigo-dyed adire must turn to collecting pieces from the cloth markets such as Oje Market in Ibadan or from traders who work in the old cloth. Soon those also will be gone from the Yoruba scene.

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