THE EVOLUTION OF ADIRE IN NIGERIA.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “Adire”, we would be doing a little introduction and explanation regarding the adire fabric. Adire textile is a resist-dyed cloth produced and worn by the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria in West Africa. The Yoruba label adire, which means “tied and dyed,” was first applied to indigo-dyed cloth decorated with resist patterns around the turn of the twentieth century.

With the introduction of a broader color palette of imported synthetic dyes in the second half of the twentieth century, the label “adire” was expanded to include a variety of hand-dyed textiles using wax resist batik methods to produce patterned cloth in a dazzling array of dye tints and hues. (Wikipedia, 2008).  

Back in the days, textiles were also used as a form of identity with each tribe having their own unique patterns which also made it easy to spot outsiders. In the case of Adire, it is said that for a long time, people who were not from certain families were not allowed to partake in tie-dye production as it was a part of the family’s heritage.

Adire textile has come a long way from what it used to be in the past,  It has gone from a local textile that was indigenous to the Yoruba people and it was strictly made on cotton fabric, but this present age, it is being produced and worn by individuals of several tribes and made on various contemporary fabrics ranging from silk, denim, chiffon, etc.


With the evolution of adire and the growing availability of chemical dyes, there is a revolution in color and techniques while making adire fabrics. In the past, there wasn’t an easy way out, they had to source for their materials and it was made from scratch.  Indigo color was derived from a plant known as the Elu leaf, they had to go through several series of procedures in other to extract the dye which would be used on the fabric. This is one of the reasons why indigo color is mostly used by artisans when making adire.

In the twenty-first century, hot wax was substituted for the indigenous cassava paste as a resist agent, and designs are now created by simple techniques such as tie-dye, folding, marbling, and randomly sprinkling of hot wax on the fabric prior to dyeing


With the progression of time,  more creative ideas have been born and the new generation designs are more appealing to fashion designers and the international community.

In the past adire designs and patterns were strictly made on cotton fabric (Guinea brocade) and this was a restricted choice because like they say “variety is the spice of life”. With the progression of the adire business, designs are now made on diverse fabrics in other to suit our various individual preferences.


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