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  • Place of origin:

    Nigeria (Ibadan, Yorobuland, Western Nigeria, made)

  • Date:

    1960-1964 (made)
    1960-1964 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    The design is drawn on in starch and then the cloth is dyed with indigo.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is an example of adire eleko, an indigo resist dyed cloth made by the Yoruba people of south-western Nigeria. Resist-dyeing involves treating certain areas of the cloth with a ‘resist’ to prevent them absorbing the dye; starch has been used as the resist. The pattern has been hand painted onto the cloth using chicken feathers, the mid rib of a palm leaf and a matchstick for different thicknesses of line. They were made by women and worn as wraparound skirts.

This pattern is known as Olokun, ‘ goddess of the sea’ in Yoruba. The goddess is also associated with wealth. The cloth is divided into four rows of five squares with a series of smaller rectangles around the edge. Patterns that can be found on the cloth include frogs, herons, scorpions, birds, crowns, snakes, lizards, drums, pipes, spoons, forks, umbrellas, combs and geometric patterns.

The underside of this cloth has been signed with a scorpion symbol but it has not yet been possible to trace the name of the maker. There is a second cloth in the V&A's collection painted by the same woman.

Physical description

Adire eleko, starch resist indigo-dyed cotton. Two strips of cotton have been stitched together to make a shape that is roughly square. The cloth is divided into squares with free hand painted designs filling the squares.

Place of Origin

Nigeria (Ibadan, Yorobuland, Western Nigeria, made)


1960-1964 (made)
1960-1964 (made)



Materials and Techniques

The design is drawn on in starch and then the cloth is dyed with indigo.


Length: 2035 mm, Width: 1730 mm

Object history note

One of a group of Adire cloths bought by Jane Barbour specifically for the V&A in the 1960s.

Descriptive line

Starch resist indigo-dyed cotton cloth, Nigeria, 1960-1964

Production Note

Cloths like this were produced by women. The cloth would have been painted and then handed over to an 'alaro' who specialised in dying.


Cotton; Indigo




Textiles; Africa


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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