We are huge fans of batik fabric, in particular Adire which is the type of tie dye fabric popular among the Yoruba people of Southern Nigeria. If you have a look at our products made with Adire, you get a sense of various patterns that are repeated across the fabric. Each of these patterns have very specific meanings.
Although I knew what some of these symbols represented, I have always wanted a catalogue of sorts, where they were all explained. I was extremely excited to learn of the new book Storytelling Through Adire: An Introduction to Adire Making and Pattern Meanings by Allyson Aina Davies which I purchased immediately.
The book details very beautifully with illustrations what each of these patterns and symbols mean, each with a name and story. The stories are often words of advice from the elders, or a means of documenting social, economic and environmental conditions. With symbols such as Adé- Crown, Eegun-eja- fish bone, Ewé ẹ̀gẹ́- Cassava leaf and many more.
Alángbá Bẹ̀rẹ̀kẹ̀tẹ̀ (Fat Lizard) “The big stomach is a symbol of wealth. It is important to feed your family to be big and healthy like the fat lizard” #Proverb – All Lizards lie on their bellies but nobody knows which of them suffers from stomach ache. (#Abeokuta style of Alangba Berekete) #Adire #Batik #Textile #Fashion #AfricanTextile #AfricanFabric #IndigoDye #Yoruba #Lagos #Nigeria #Africa #AfricanProverb #Patterns #Lizard #Indigo #StorytellingThroughAdire #Blue #Art #AfricanArt #AdireEleko #NigerianArt
A photo posted by Adire Patterns (@adirepatterns) on
With the collection of symbols on each piece of cloth, we start to see a story unfolding in this unique cross between art and functionality. If you are interested in African fabric design and in particular Adire patterns, I would definitely recommend this book. It is a great resource. I love the fact that each piece we make out of Adire gives you a small piece of a much larger story. A little portion of Yoruba history and wisdom!
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Please check out Adire Patterns website for more information: www.adirepatterns.com
Adire Patterns Twitter handle: @AdirePatterns
WHERE TO BUY THE BOOK:
The book is available in the following places.
- ONLINE on Amazon
- STRANGER: 3 Hakeem Dickson, Lekki Phase One, Lagos, Nigeria
- QUINTESSENCE: Park View Estate Entrance, Off Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria
You can get a range of unique Ankara (African wax print) and Adire (hand-dyed, handmade tie dye) fabric shipped right to your door!
Adire pronounced (pronounced ah-d-reh) is the indigo dyed cloth made predominantly by Yoruba women in South-West Nigeria. The fabric is produced using a range of resist dye techniques. There are several techniques used to make adire ranging from tieing and stitching the areas that will resist the dye, to the use of wax for the same purpose. Additional methods also include hand-painted or stenciled designs directly onto cloth. The word Adire is now used more generically to refer to various resist dye fabrics in Nigeria.
Indigo in West Africa
Indigo was the basis of numerous textile traditions throughout West Africa. Indigo in West Africa was obtained from local plant sources, either indigofera or lonchocarpus cyanescans and transforming the raw material into a dye was a complex process requiring great expertise. The art of indigo dyed cloth was a highly valuable skill passed on by specialist dyers from generation to generation. From the Tuareg nomads of the Sahara to Cameroon, Senegal and Mali indigo cloth signified wealth, abundance and fertility. Among the Hausa of Northern Nigeria, where the export trade in prestige textiles was highly organised, male dyers working at communal dye pits were the basis of the wealth of the ancient city of Kano. Sadly this has seen a fast decline due to cheap imports from Asia as well as the unrest and violence experienced in the region. Watch this BBC piece on the current situation.
I find the various dyeing techniques quite interesting as they involve threading, stitching and tying the fabric similar to the Japanese Shibori methods of tie dye. Shibori is a Japanese term for several methods of dyeing cloth with a pattern by binding, stitching, folding, twisting, compressing it, or capping. They have beautiful names such as Kanoko shibori, Itajime shibori, Miura shibori, Kumo shibori and Nui shibori. Each of these describes a specific method used to achieve a certain result. In Japan, the earliest known example of cloth dyed with a shibori technique is said to date from the 8th century. Check out this wonderful blog that features a daily post on various Japanese textiles- www.dailyjapanesetextile.wordpress.com/
Looking through books and images, there are so many similarities between some of the traditional Japanese fabrics and the Nigerian ones I grew up wearing.
As with most things, there is now a modern twist to tie and dye fabric especially in West Africa. Adire is not quite as popular as the ubiquitous African Wax Print but I am one of the many champions of the cause! Check out how we’ve mixed up the gorgeous fabric here on Urbanknit.
Are you a fan of the traditional style of indigo? Or do you adore brightly coloured modern Adire? Share your thoughts!in Knowledge