Description: This is a large Yoruba Adire cloth, starch resist dyed, probably produced using synthetic indigo dye. This cloth is made up of two panels, sewn together. The two ends are machine sewn, perhaps to display it as a wall hanging, and there is selvedge on the sides. The cloth features darker and lighter shades of indigo blue. The designs are formed of circular and diamond shapes, filled with swirls. The background is made up of wave and star motifs, extending horizontally across the cloth.
Experts consulted agree that the swirls were created by the use of a comb (this is further confirmed by the fact that a very similar cloth is entitled ‘Oni koomu’, ‘the one with the comb’). It is not confirmed whether the designs on this cloth were created freehand or by the use of stencils; the cloth may contain elements of both stencilling and freehand designing.
The cloth may well have been purchased soon after it was dyed, judging by its sheen, which was produced by ‘ironing’, actually beating with mallets, soon after the cloth was dyed, and by its style.
The initials ‘A.B.’, which appear on the back of the cloth in chalk, are probably the seller’s initials.
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.