General Adire Trade and the Nature of Adire Eleko Take-Off Designs, 1910-30


With the emergence of wage labour, many people abandoned their east while jobs for new job placements in the new economic dispensation. Those who stuck to their pre-1900 occupations included craftsmen and artists. For example, the dyeing craft involving adire production was sustained into the twentieth century. Between 1910 and 1930, production centres and adoptive tools and technique and indigenous textile design motifs were evolved for the take-off of general adire trade and adire eleko in particular.

The examination of the nature of adire eleko designs in the general adire trade seems to show that the artists had a successful start. The production centres which made this possible are identified, the nature of tools and production technique adopted are outlined and the sources and significance of the designs produced are highlighted in the general adire trade.

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Adire Production Centres in the Early Decades of the Twentieth Century

Production centres played a crucial role in the control of the fluctuating fortunes of adire trade. Their evolution coincided with the boom arising from the short-lived investment in the production of raw rubber and more long-term gains from cocoa and kolanut production. These increased the monetary wealth in circulation among the Yoruba.

The purchasing power of men and women also increased as more people in commercial firms at and rail construction), as earlier stated. Rapid social changes occurred among which was the lifestyle of acquiring and appearing in trendy dress, reflecting changing religious, recreational, entertainment and work requirements. In Ibadan, for example, there was an unprecedented feature of social parties accompanied by lavish spending on clothes from 1904. Consequently, young men and women who were fond of wearing expensive dress fabric were admonished between 1907 and 1910 by the Ibadan natural ruler, Bale Dada, to dress simply, for fear of being targets to thieves.

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Adire Types and their Evolution Sequence

Evolution of various adire types commenced in time sequence: first with adire eleso followed by elelo, alabere and last eleko. Eleso requires firm tying round seeds or small pebbles at various portions of a fabric and after dyeing it, the raffia threads are removed. What one gets at the end are small circles or spotted designs.

The designs on elelo type are obtained through manipulations by folding the fabrics in various ways and tying it at various points .The alabere (needle technique) type has designs arrived at through manipulations with needles and sewing machines. Because these techniques utilise iko (raffia thread) and cotton thread during sewing, tying and folding, it is appropriate to classify them as adire oniko. The second group is adire eleko. It is a technique whereby designs are painted directly on the cloth or printed on it using stencils. After drying the painted or printed cloth under the sun, the cloth is finally dyed.

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