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Yoruba adire cloth added to collection

15 October 2010

John Lane, a local resident, has donated six magnificent lengths of decorated Nigerian indigo cloth; a wonderful complement to an existing collection of material that was made in Nigeria and collected in the 1970s.

Coronation cloth

The piece pictured is called coronation cloth or Oloba adire and relates to the stencilled pattern that was created in Abeokuta, one of the main centres of adire production. The pattern was copied from a portrait in England for the 1935 Royal Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. Gbogbo ohun kosehin oluwa, meaning everything is known to God, is written on the cloth.

What is Adire

The people of Nigeria have a long history in the production and trading of patterned cloth. Adire is the name given by the Yoruba of Southwest Nigeria to cloth that is patterned by various techniques of ‘resist dyeing’. It literally means ‘to tie and dye’ and dye from a local indigo plant was traditionally used.

Adire production

Adire cloth was first produced in the 19th century, its patterns copied those used in woven cloth. Production increased throughout the century and continued until great depression in the 1930s. Initially adire was made by women but men became increasingly involved in its manufacture in the 20th century. Adire became popular again in the 1960s when new designs were created representing Nigerian identity linking it to the movement towards national independence.

Displaying the cloth

Five pieces of cloth will be kept for display, one will be displayed in the World Cultures gallery when it reopens in late 2011.The Coronation cloth is included in the Small World school project which explores world fashion and helps students explore identity locally and throughout the world.

Designated collection logo (420x420)

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