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Collection Artifact Details

Stencil

Type: Tools & Equipment
Object Name: Stencil
Local Name: adire stencil
Place Made: Africa: West Africa, Nigeria
People: Yoruba
Period: Mid to late 20th century
Date: c 1970
Dimensions: L 55 cm x W 39 cm
Materials: Zinc
ID Number: T87.0592
Credit: Gift of Susan E. Barkley

The Yoruba people of Nigeria have a long history as skilled textile artisans. In the early 20th century, the Yoruba developed an ingenious way to reuse sheet metals, which had arrived in Nigeria from the Far East as the linings of tea chests. Although stitched- and tied-resist adire cloth was traditionally produced by women, it was the men who cut the stencils from the metal sheets. A thick paste of yam or cassava flour is pushed through the holes in the stencil onto cotton, which is immersed in a vat of indigo dye to turn it blue. When the paste is removed, the covered areas emerge as a lighter pattern against the darker background. The resulting indigo cloth, dyed with cassava paste, is called adire eleko.