How Much Do You Know About Adire?

If you look closely enough, there are facts about a popular item that stare us right in the face. There are histories we do not discover despite regular usage of an item. Today, we are teaching these facts - about Adire.

Did you know that symbols are often found at the back of older Adire fabrics? This was done by each woman to mark her design for easy identification.

Adire textile is a resist-dyed cloth produced and worn primarily by the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria. The Yoruba label adire (meaning “tie and dye”) was first applied to indigo-dyed cloth decorated with resist patterns in the early twentieth century.

By the second half of the twentieth century, broader colour palette of imported synthetic dyes was introduced. Adire then included a variety of hand-dyed textiles using wax-resist batik methods to produce patterned cloth in an array of dye tints and hues.


The Adire was first produced in Jojola’s compound of Kemta,Abeokuta by Chief Mrs. Miniya Jojolola Soetan, the second Iyalode(Head of Women) of Egba land. She then passed on the process toher children and onward to the future generations. The first Adirematerial was made with Teru (local white attire) and Elu (local Dye)made from elu leaf which is planted in the Saki area of Oyo state.

Adire textile production is assumed to be inherited by birth and the heritage passed on to descendants of families who were also involved in the production process.

In Egba land, the craft was formerly known to be a family business. Parents passed the techniques down to their female children and the wives of their sons.

Did you know that for a long time, people who were not from a certain family were not allowed to partake in adire production as it was a part of the family’s heritage?

With the innovations of the 1930s, men were to partake in adire making, which was primarily a female craft.  Women remained specialists in the dyeing, tying, hand-painting, and hand-sewing done prior to dyeing, but the men became involved in decorating techniques using stitching machine and applying starch through zinc stencils.

By the 1960s a growing availability of chemical dyes from Europe caused a revolution in colour and techniques.

Presently, new multi-coloured adire uses simple technology and hot wax or paraffin are used as resist agents in place of the indigenous cassava paste. Designs are created by simple techniques including tie-dye, folding, crumpling, and randomly sprinkling or splashing the hot wax onto a cloth before dyeing.

To meet the high demand for adire, stencilling has largely been replaced by a block printing technique to apply the hot wax.

Adire remains one of the biggest fashion exports from Nigeria. Designs with the fabric make wearers look exotic and naturally confers prestige. At Ozoza Lifestyle, we have several amazing designs made from the fabric you cannot afford to miss. Shop here.

  • Dec 25, 2020
  • Category: Blog
  • Comments: 0
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