Overview of Abeokuta, the capital city of Ogun State in Nigeria.
Full view of Aladire. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
Adire is common among the people of Egbaland in Ogun State but also throughout Yorubaland. It is a material designed with wax-resist methods that will produce patterned designs in a dazzling array of tints and hues.
Adire are made by resist-dyeing which involves creating a pattern by treating certain parts of the fabric in some way to prevent them absorbing dye. Cloths were made up of two strips 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.
Aladire as she paints. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
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.
Cassava paste design on adire. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
Traditional "Adire Eleko" refers to designs created by the application of starch paste made from cassava flour. This starch resists the dye from penetrating through the cloth.
Creating patterns on cloth for AdireOriginal Source: The Centenary Project
The starch is made of the flour mixed with water that is boiled and then strained.
A hand painting on aidre with a feather. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
The starch paste is applied with brush or feather on the surface of the fabric or through a stencil that has been cut into a design. It will be left to dry for a while under the sun before it is immersed into a dye solution.
Closer view of design. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
It takes roughly three days to complete a yard, and about two weeks to complete five yards. Most designs have repeated patterns created with no focal point of interest.
Elu plant. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
Lonchocarpus Cyanescens, traditionally known as “Elu-Aja” (Elu Leaf) is the plant from which traditional dye is made. It is mostly found in the North-West and North-Central Nigeria.
The leaves are pounded, shaped into balls and dried in the sun. Processing enables the balls to be stored, transported and traded.
Elu pot by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
When processed with local chemicals, the elu is allowed to ferment between three weeks to six months, depending on the desired nature of the dye. The elu leaf typically produces an indigo color dye.
Piece of cloth in dye by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
Submersion in the processed dye for varying periods of time depending on desired design. The cloth would be dipped into the dye and then pulled out to allow it to oxidise and take on the bright blue colour.
Patterned cloth for Adire dipped into dyeOriginal Source: The Centenary Project
This process would then be repeated, the more times a cloth was dipped the darker it would become.
Dipping cloth into dye to make AdireOriginal Source: The Centenary Project
Adire Cloth (no date) by YorubaThe Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Example of an Adire Eleko design
Designer using the wax pot. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
Modern design techniques feature resist-wax application, which takes less time to design.
Wax method of designing on adire. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
More modern designing (comprising of candle wax and foam) takes about 24 hours to finish 2 and a half yards of designing. Significantly faster and more efficient than the traditional means.
Man holding and wearing final product of tye-dye. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
In the modern Yoruba society, men as well are engaged in the processes of manufacturing adire for sale as well as use.
Traditionally, Adire Oniko was tied or wrapped with rafia to resist the dye. But today, more modern approaches have been implemented.
Scarves designed with dye. by The Centenary ProjectThe Centenary Project
THE FASHION CONSCIOUS
New adire appeals to the fashion conscious in the Urban and Rural areas.
Whether produced by old processes or new innovations, Adire today continues to face fashion challenges, and is still an alternative to machine prints.
Curator: Patrick Enaholo/David Assam
Photographs: Christopher Udoh/David Assam
Research: Patrick Enaholo/David Assam
© The Centenary Project