The multi-ethnicity of Nigerian culture gives value to various kinds of art, such as wood carving, pottery, glass and metal works, leather and calabash, painting, textile, and grass weaving.
One of these kinds of art is popularly known among the people of Egbaland in Ogun State. This historical textile, Adire, reflects the origin of their culture.
The missionaries earlier introduced the people to cotton, cotton weaving, pottery, and Adire, which are all local crafts among the people of Abeokuta.
What is Adire?
Adire in Yoruba means ‘Tye and dye.’ This textile is a resist-dyed cloth produced and worn primarily by the Yoruba people in Nigeria. Its production involves creating a pattern by treating certain parts of the material in a certain way to prevent them from absorbing dye.
Nigeria is also known for its indigo-resist designs, created by repeat dyeing of cloth painted with cassava made paste to give a deep blue color.
Other forms of indigo resist-dyeing exist in other parts of West Africa; for example, the Senegalese dyers use rice paste rather than cassava root.
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History of Adire
The tradition of ‘indigo dyeing’ goes back centuries in West Africa. It was first produced in Jojola’s compound of Kemta, Abeokuta by the second Iyalode (Chief Mrs. Miniya Jojolola Soetan) of Egba land.
As a family heritage, she decided to pass the knowledge of the process on to her children and to the future generations.
The first-ever known Adire material was produced with Teru (local white attire) and Elu (local Dye) made from elu leaves planted in the Saki area of Oyo state.
Women became experts in the dyeing, tying, and hand-sewing, but the men remained involved in decorating techniques using stitching machines and applying starch with zinc stencils.
Later on, chemical dyes from Europe caused a revolution in color and techniques. This attracted fashion designers all over Nigeria, who began to use the designs to print high-quality cloth.
Now, this craft can be taught in institutions. New multicolored Adire textiles use paraffin and technology as resist agents instead of local cassava paste. Stenciling has also been replaced by printing techniques to meet the high demands of Adire.
Today, Adire faces some fashion challenges, whether it is produced by old methods or new technology. Our alternative still remains machine prints, which keep the textile appealing to the fashion brand.