The term Adire translates to “tie & dye”. It is sometimes known as “kampala”. This fabric is commonplace among the people of Egbaland in Ogun State, South West Nigeria. Originally, Adire designs were restricted to vibrant blue designs on white backgrounds. These colours and their common patterns are what most people are familiar with. Now, the kampala has evolved. Modern variations of the fabric come in different colours and patterns.
The resist-dyeing method of creating Adire fabrics works by blocking parts of a fabric with objects or materials to stop them from absorbing the dye. Non-treated parts of the fabric are then dyed in corresponding patterns with vivid colours.
In Nigeria, there are three (3) primary resist techniques used to create Adire patterns:
- Onikan: This process involves tying raffia around hundreds of individual corn kernels or pebbles to produce small white circles on a blue background. The fabric can also be twisted and tied on itself or folded into stripes.
- Alabere: This process is simply done by stitching raffia onto the fabric in a pattern prior to dyeing. The raffia palm is stripped, and the spine is sewn into the fabric. After dyeing, some people strip the raffia out of the fabric, revealing the contrasting white, while others choose to leave it in and let it wear and tear on the garment slowly revealing the design.
- Eleko: This process involves resist-dyeing with cassava paste painted onto the fabric. In a technique that is similar to blockprinting, Adire printers would traditionally utilise different sizes of chicken feathers and calabash carved into different designs to create the patterns.
Some forms of Adire are batiks that are designed using wax-resist methods that will produce patterned designs in a variety of tints and hues.
- Adire is very popular in Nigeria, West Africa and around the globe. If you are fascinated by arts, colours, and designs, you can learn the art of “tie and dye” and turn this love for the Adire into a business by teaching more people in towns and cities.
- Adire has a big market outside the shores of Nigeria. You can invest in buying Adire and exporting it overseas.
- The Ogun State government has also shown great interest in the industry. This includes plans to adopt Adire fabric as uniform in public schools and working to end importation of the fabric to encourage growth in the local market. This interest, albeit on a state level, creates a big investment opportunity for entrepreneurs to make and supply Adire to a developing market within the country.