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Àdìrę, the collection inspired by the Àdìrę fabric made by the Yoruba people is Littart by Aì’s 5th curated collection.

Àdìrę which loosely translates to “tie and dye” in Yorùbá is a type of dyed fabric made by various dye resist methods and is mostly popular in South-western Nigeria.

In Yorùbáland, Àdìrę functions holds a dual role as a fashion statement and a visual language. It is means of artistry and telling stories.

Folklore about Àdìrę

In Yorùbá traditional history, it is said that Orunmila, the Yorùbá deity of wisdom and divination was divinely inspired to create patterned dyed cloths using the design of certain birds, namely Agbe, Àlùkò, Odídęrę, Lekeleke and Agbufon. He was also permitted to use indigo, cam wood, palm oil, chalk and variegated colour pigments in the creation.

The stories are in the Ejiogbe chapter of the Ifa divination oral literature.

Evolution of Àdìrę

Although according to scholarly opinions, the origin of Àdìrę is said to be unknown, Women were mostly the Àdìrę artists. Àdìrę was first made from a hand woven cloth called Kíjìpá. This cloth was then dyed with indigo colour or aró. Women were at the forefront of weaving the fabric and indigo-dying them using the Oniko method. Apart from the freshly made Adire fabrics, They also refurbished old clothes and dyed them.

Between 1880 and 1925, Àdìrę artists started using calico for their products due to the importation of English cotton products. The then British government in Nigeria heavily taxed the local Kíjìpá fabric and left the imported fabrics untaxed. This interestingly led to the expansion of the Àdìrę industry as a new method of production became innovated, the “starch resist” method called Eleko.

By the 1930’s, another innovation was birthed with the Àdìrę art being done on fabrics such as Brocade and Velvet. An introduction of sewing machine in the 1930s also birthed the entry of men into the otherwise female dominated Àdìrę industry.

Sadly, The 1940’s and 1950’s saw a decline in production of adire due to factors such as the ban of importation of textile due to World war II, the universal free education policy which meant that all children had to go to school and apprenticeship was affected, a rapid population growth which led to the conversion of Àdìrę courtyards for other purposes and the flooding of the Nigerian market with Àdìrę imitations.

After the World war II, new brightly coloured chemical dyes were introduced and this marked a resurgence and a new beginning for the Adire tradition. It became very popular in the 1960’s and also became a national identity for Lagos elites who were protesting against European values.

Over the years, Àdìrę has remained fashionable, the methods of production have evolved as seen from the textile choices and technology behind the methods.

Àdìrę Techniques and Methods

Through the years, different dye resist methods have been introduced but Àdìrę Oniko and Àdìrę Eleko are the oldest forms. Adire Oniko makes use of raffia which is strategically tied at different positions of the fabric to create a pattern, the raffia could be tied individually around the cloth or tied around objects. Objects such as pebbles.

The raffia provides a means of dye resist when the fabric is finally dyed.

The Oniko method has evolved over the years to several sub groups which have come about as a result of experimentation using the original Oniko method. These subgroups are: circles, Eleso, Sabada, Clamping and Stitching.

The Àdìrę Eleko method makes use of cassava paste or starch paste which provides the dye resist means. The cloth is handpainted using the paste and a wet feather or brush. Different types of motifs were usually hand painted on the fabrics, the motifs were usually stylised representations of plants, animals, lines, shapes, celestial bodies as well as everyday objects. All these representations reflected the Yorùbá way of life.

The Eleko method has also been developed to different subgroups: Freehand Eleko, Stenciled Àdìrę Eleko, Eleko Splash and Lace Eleko.

More modern methods of Àdìrę are: Batik, Factory produced Àdìrę and discharge dyed Àdìrę.

The Batik method uses wax as a means of dye resist. Its subgroups are Freehand Batik, Splash Batik Àdìrę Olonte, and Batik as an art form.

The Factory printed Àdìrę are replicated adire motifs printed in a factory.

Fun facts about Àdìrę

  • The name “Kampala” as Àdìrę is often called came to be because of the Peace Conference held in Kampala, Uganda to settle the Biafra war in Nigeria. Àdìrę became popular in Nigeria during that period.
  • A group of women that specialised in Àdìrę Eleko in Ibadan, Nigeria produced a popular design used for Àdìrę known as Ìbàdàndùn which means Ibadan is sweet
  • Àdìrę motifs are means of story telling in Yoruba land.



The Àdìrę collection features 5 different patterns and designs which were selected from the different types of Àdìrę creation techniques.

Meet the Àdìrę collection:


This fabric titled after the collection was produced using the Àdìrę Oniko method of production.

Its dominant colour is green and it is characterised by gradual tone variation  across the points where it was tied to create a dye resist.

Àdìrę pulls you in with its calmness and showcases the beauty of Àdìrę in full glory.

Aró Dúdú

Named after the colour of the original retro Àdìrę. Aró Dúdú is a Yoruba word that means dark indigo.

This fabric was made using the starch resist Eleko method. 

Aró Dúdú is characterised by lines and abstract shapes. Its classy beauty is subtle but striking.


Batik is named after the batik method of Adire production using candle wax.

Characterised by a series of horizontal and vertical lines which form an intricate pattern and design, Batik is a beautiful piece of line art.


Omidan is a Yoruba word which means young lady. The Omidan fabric produced via the factory printing method is a mix mash of vibrant colours such as purple, orange, yellow with its dominant colour being yellow.


This blue patterned fabric was produced using modern methods of Adire Oniko. It’s characterised by a series of tonal gradiation across the fabric to the points at which the dye-resist means was applied.