School of Design

ULITA - an Archive of International Textiles

Adire cloth
Date: c. 1977
Dimensions: 199.1 × 163.8 cm (78 3/8 × 64 1/2 in.)
Medium: cotton
Made in: Nigeria, Yorubaland
Collected in: Nigeria, Ilorin
Description: This is a Yoruba Adire cloth with selvedge on two sides; the other two sides have been sewn. It is freehand starch resist dyed. The colours are dark indigo and mustard yellow. The design is made up of large squares filled with various motifs. One type of square contains nine small ‘Elewe mẹrin’, meaning ‘four-leafed [sic] plant’. Another, showing a circle in the centre with four paddle-like protrusions, may be a representation of a divination tray. The square alternating light crosshatched triangles and dark triangles with a lighter dot in the centre has been identified as ‘Ayed’ẹgbe’, ‘the world is on its side’. The squares made up entirely of crosshatching appear to be a version of ‘Waya’, ‘wire net’. The angled stripes that appear as part of some rectangles are identifiable as ‘Egun ẹja’, ‘fish bone’. Other motifs include swirls, stripes, triangles, flower/leaf designs, and stylised birds and other animals. The term ‘Adire’ is generally used to refer to two types of resist dyed cloth produced in Yorubaland, involving tying and stitching or the use of starch paste. Starch paste is applied either freehand or with the use of stencils. Machine stitching and new types of dyes have been introduced. Adire experienced a massive decline in the late twentieth century but as of the first two decades of the twenty-first century it is enjoying a resurgence. The term ‘Yoruba batik’ is used in this collection to refer to cloth dyed in Yorubaland from the late 1960s onwards with wax as the resist agent. It is classified as a form of resist dyeing separate from Adire. Part of the O'Hear Collection.
Inv. No.: 2014.74

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