There are three methods of creating patterns
on adire cloths. The
oldest method is called adire alabere
in which the design is
created using a tie dye or stitch resist method. It was effective on the
old-fashioned, hand-spun cotton cloth called kijipa. The introduction of machine made cotton broadcloth with its fine, tight thread and smooth surface enabled the development of adire eleko or starch resist and much finer detail in adire designs. The most recent development is adire batik that was introduced in the 1960's and '70's in Oshogbo. It uses wax as a resist.
Iyalaro Abike working on tying adire alabere at the Nike
Centre workshop in Ogidi, Nigeria. The traditional material used is
raffia fiber stripped from raffia palm fronds. Today other
materials are used e.g. plastic recycled from rice sacks and some
commercial cords and threads. The material needs to be impermeable to
the dye and strong enough to withstand tight, firm stitching and tying
Making the ties
Using recycled plastic from rice sacks to tie an adire alabere design
A master dyer
teaching a student the fila or "cap" design. The teacher's dress is an example of the fila pattern so-called because the tied cloth resembles a Yoruba man's cap.
A tied cloth
Fila design adire cloth tied and dyed, but the ties have not been released so it is clear how the design got its name.
Indigo-dyed adire cloth with a fila design
The tied cloth has been released revealing the finished design.