HAND MADE FABRICS FROM AFRICA

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ” ― Michael Crichton

Knowing our roots and being able to ascertain our tradition is a luxury not everyone is privileged to have, so for this reason, we consciously make efforts to ensure that we keep our traditions and cultural heritage alive by passing down the knowledge, skill, and language down to the next generation.

As Africans, we love to show off our rich culture and heritage and we do so in several mediums such as; our food, mode of dressing, languages, music, and crafts.

There are several hand made fabrics that originated in Africa and we would be discussing a few of them:

Abomey Appliqué: Abomey Appliqué are animated woven cloths from present-day Benin. In ‘African Textiles’, written by John Picton and John Mack, Appliqué is a word used to define ‘the process of adding further materials to an already-woven textile’. The craft was created in the Dahomey Kingdom that existed from about 1600 until 1904, when it was defeated by the French. The Fon people living in Dahomey’s capital, Abomey, are credited with creating the art.

 The fifth king of Dahomey, King Agadja (1708-1740), is said to have introduced the Abomey appliqué art to the kingdom and It’s believed that when he was on campaign in the Wémè, he witnessed a voodoo dance whose skirts formed colorful circles. Inspired by this, he captured two expert appliqué workers from the Avranku region and took them back to Abomey. Entirely at the service of the king, they were to make rainbow-colored clothes for his own court.

AdireAdire is a resist-dyed cloth produced and worn by the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria in West Africa. The Yoruba label adire, which means “tied and dyed,” was first applied to indigo-dyed cloth decorated with resist patterns around the turn of the twentieth century. With the introduction of a broader color palette of imported synthetic dyes in the second half of the twentieth century, the label “adire” was expanded to include a variety of hand-dyed textiles using wax resist batik methods to produce patterned cloth in a dazzling array of dye tints and hues.

A’ngerA’nger is a fabric by the TIV speaking people of Benue State  Nigeria. It is a traditional hand-woven fabric with black and white yarns to create beautiful features that make the cloth appear like live Zebra skin. The colors (black and white) on the A’nger symbolize Honesty and Sincerity respectively in speaking or dealing with issues and this defines the character of a traditional Tiv man. The fabric features reflect the peaceful nature of the people, the black and white symbolically represent the nature Zebra in the wild, one among the most peaceful, harmless and beautiful looking animals. 

Aso-okeAso-Oke is a short form of Aso Ilu Oke which denotes cloth of high status. It is the traditional wear of the Yoruba’s (the tribe of the southwest people in Nigeria). Aso oke cloth is decorated with elaborate patterns made from dyed strands of fabric that are woven into. Source https://bellafricana.com/

Kente: Kente cloth originated with the Ashanti people of Ghana. It dates back 375 years, conceived in a village called Bonwire. The word “kente” means basket, this is because of its resemblance to a woven basket design. The kente fabric is probably the most universally recognized African fabric and it is woven on a horizontal strip loom, which produces a narrow band of cloth about four inches wide. Several of these strips are carefully arranged and hand-sewn together to create a cloth of the desired size.

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