Adire Cloth in Nigeria : A Book Review on Adire Textile

Adire cloth (pronounced Ah-DEER-eh), is one of the many African textiles I really love. It is quite versatile and I love the way the patterns can be so simple and yet unique.  It is an age old textile of African origin which has been brought up in several discussions for many years.

With the changing times and discovery of newer findings, a revised edition of old Adire cloth publications is a welcome introduction to our knowledge accumulation. Adire is a Yoruba word for indigo-dyed style of fabrics, it is so unique that it can be considered a form of cloth art….

Adire eleko cloth in the classic Ibadandun design. Circa 1960.

Adire Eleko cloth in the classic Ibadandun design. Circa 1960. SOURCE: Adire African Textiles

Interpreted literally, the word Adire simply means tie and dye, as the basic technique involves tying before dyeing the fabric. This form of textile production started centuries back in the South-Western part of Nigeria. In this new publication you will learn that it requires a variety of resist-dyeing techniques.

Related: Indigo Dye

Adire Cloth In Nigeria

One of the most popular and detailed publications about the Adire textile is “Adire Cloth in Nigeria” which was published by the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan in the year 1971. Today, this highly informative book has been further revised to accommodate the recent discoveries in tie and dye.

The newly published edition has sparked quite an interest in me as I found out it focuses on the depth and details involved in tye and dye production. From reading it, I gained clearer insights on the description of the various design techniques that can be used in making Adire.

Adire Cloth in Nigeria 2016

Hungry for more knowledge, I found myself reading through the pages while taking notes. If we’ve met in person, I’m sure you must have noticed my note taking habit. I am just of the believe that the faintest ink is better than the sharpest memory.

Adire making has been an intricate part of the Nigerian tradition for a very long time. This craft is not merely a craft, it is a unique form of art that requires a great amount of expertise and precision. As much as the craft itself requires extensive knowledge, so also, is this newly published edition of the book filled with contributions from notable scholars from the University of Ibadan.

Adire Cloth in Nigeria maintains the original 5 chapters and has additional chapters reflecting on the current situation and new developments in tie and dye. The publication is filled with numerous relevant drawings and photographic illustrations. These include pictures of rare pieces of Adire cloth held in private collections and museums.

The new publication saw the editorial prowess of the likes of Doig Simmonds, Pat Oyelola, and Segun Oke. The forward was written by Professor Dele Layiwola, the Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.

Key people involved in this new publication are the editors Doig Simmonds, Pat Oyelola, and Segun Oke.  Professor Dele Layiwola, the Director of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan has written the foreword, and the world renowned artist and designer Chief Nike Okundaye, who has done so much to create a revival in adire making, contributed a new chapter.

‘Adire Cloth in Nigeria’ will be very useful for academics and researchers, a valuable resource book for educational establishments, and can contribute to raising knowledge and awareness about arts and crafts and textile design in Nigeria.

The publication is available from the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan and you can email doigds@gmail.com to get a copy.