As part of an amazing Nigeria trip, a visit to Kano State, the pride of the north as it is called is inevitable. The Kano city is surrounded by the ancient walls which I was told has been in existence for over 500 years.
At the Kofar Matar entrance is the famous Kano’s Kofar Mata dye pit where fabrics are dyed. The area seemed a tad scanty, not that many people around and then it all made sense; Tariq Musa, who welcomed us to the area explained the reason for the sparse environment was due to the Ramadan period.
Most workers were off observing the Ramadan, and then we spotted an elderly man. Crouched over in his Ankara print pants, rolled up to his calves, topped with an oversize Danshiki style shirt; he was busy dipping a material into a pit of purple solution. Super interesting – I’d witnessed some tie & dye when I visited South Nigeria – Abeokuta which seemed to be done in drums and clay pots, not pits as done in Kano. So I asked if the process involved in dye making was similar to that in the South.
Tariq explained that basically the dye chemicals are mixed in the pit for 3 weeks or more until they are used. Guinea, or Sheda material are commonly used as they absorb dye well. The materials are tied in knots depending on the patterns desired and then dipped into the dye pit for about 6 hours depending on the depth of shades of the colors desired.
After 6 hours, the fabrics are taken out and spread out to dry in the sun naturally. These tie and dye fabrics are folded in bunches of 6yards; banged into shape after folding and shipped off for distribution in the market. Today, adire (or tie and dye) is not only used in traditional clothing, but some accessories like this A’Maze Africa Clutch.