Fri | Sep 29, 2023

What a cloth!

JBDC celebrating Black History Month through textile

Published:Wednesday | February 22, 2023 | 12:57 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer

For three days, February 23 to 24, a lot of cloths will be on sale as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) celebrates Black History Month with textile, at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, in St Andrew.

The activities will unfold with a panel discussion from 10 a.m. to noon on the first day, under the theme ‘Celebrating Black History Month through Jadire textile – The Future, Challenges, and Way Forward’. There will also be performances by Edna Manley students, after which the exhibition and sale will be opened.

Jadire, known as Jamaican Adire, was derived from combining Jamaica with the Yoruba word adire, meaning ‘tie-and-dye textile’. It is an indigo-dyed cloth made mainly in southwest Nigeria by Yoruban women using a variety of resist-dyeing techniques. In Africa, cloths represent cultural identity and they are viewed as the products of technology, cultural symbolism, works of art, or as items of trade.

Among these techniques are adire alabela (candle wax), adire eleko (starch resist), adire oniko (tie-and-dye), adire alabere (stitching method) and adire onipatan (batik or silk painting). The resist dyeing involves creating patterns either by a stamp or free-handedly. These were the methods that were transferred to Jamaica through bilateral relations with Nigeria.


The Jadire event is the continuation of JBDC’s Festival of The Cloth, which first took place virtually in 2021, with prominent textile artists and historians from Nigeria and Jamaica addressing topics such as ‘Conversations across continents’ and ‘Cultural retention and mergers in products and processes’. And now, it is time to show off what has been happening since then.

“For the first time, the individuals trained in the respective techniques will be coming together with the passion to explore the artistic potential as one body, and to encourage the production of Jadire to our youth, while passing the knowledge on to them,” the JBDC revealed.

Under the tutelage of Alao Luqman Omotayo, a Nigerian cultural diplomat/volunteer working in Jamaica for the past five years in a variety of textile surface design, many individuals and groups have been trained. The objective is to create a tie-dye/batik cottage industry in Jamaica. Omotayo is the pioneer of ‘Festival of the Cloth’, an idea to create a tie-dye/batik cottage industry across the parishes of Jamaica. He is also the pioneer of the Jamaican textile called Jadire.


“The JBDC is seeking to expand the cultural expressions and textile industry to new levels by incorporating local designs on textile. The exhibition is intended to promote the work of leading local textile artists, who have started the textile-printing cottage industry in Jamaica,” the JBDC said.

The JBDC is also proposing the formation of a group of textile artists called ‘Textile Guild of Jamaica’, which will be a non-governmental organisation, inclusive of stakeholders within and outside of academia, some who have already participated in various workshops at the JBDC.

“The development of Nigeria’s textile industry through printed motifs, patterns, and stories is significant to its culture. The impact and influence of Nigeria on the Jamaican experience, as well as the importance of the use of Adire in sustaining or expressing cultural identity and the cultural identity of a people, will further enhance Jamaica’s cultural expression on a global stage,” the JBDC said.

“Perhaps more than any other art form, textile reflects the culture from which one comes, and Adire and Jadire textiles are viable means by which the rich Jamaican cultural heritage and ideas could be conveyed to other countries of the world, just as the Yoruba of Nigeria did with tie-dye/batik textile prints.”