Some African Textile You Should Know
African textiles are known for their hand-made quality, bright hues and distinct patterns that carries meaning with them. There are so many types of African textile that we tend to call ankara today, not knowing they are not ankara because they are made of different patterns. So here are some of African textiles.
Kente textile is said to have been created by mimicking the actions of the spiders by two friends who watched how a spider wove its web. It is said that this story, whether true or not, shows the harmony between Ghanaians and Mother Nature. The Kente cloth is one of the most famous and wanted fabric in the whole of Africa. For the Ghanaians, this represents the history, philosophy, oral literature, religious beliefs, political thought and aesthetic principles of life.
Adinkra textile is that Ghainain textile with Akan symbols stamped on it. The centre of production is the village of Ntonso. During a military conflict at the beginning of the nineteenth century, caused by the Gyaaman trying to copy the neighbouring Asante’s ‘golden stool’ (the symbol of the Asante nation), the Gyaaman king was killed. His adinkra robe was taken by Nana Osei Bonsu-Panyin, the Asante Hene (Asante King), as a trophy. With the robe came the knowledge of adinkra aduru (the special ink used in the printing process) and the process of stamping the designs onto cotton cloth.
Aso-Oke is a cloth that is worn on special occasions by the Yoruba’s usually for chieftaincy, festivals, engagement, naming ceremony and other important events. Aso-Oke is the traditional wear of the Yoruba’s (the tribe of the southwest people in Nigeria, Africa). It is said that “the beauty of Aso-Oke comes out more when it is taken as Aso-Ebi (group of people e.g. friends, families e.t.c)”, however Bellafricana is prepared to show the beauty of Aso-Oke in interior decorations and many more.
Shweshwe textile got its name due to its association with the king. The cloth was later called shoeshoe and ultimately ishweshwe. In the 1840s King Moshoeshoe I of Lesotho in South Africa was presented with a gift of indigo-printed cloth, which became popular among locals. Due to its timeless popularity, shweshwe has been described as the demin or tertan (a pattern consisting of crisps-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours) of South Africa.
Awete cloth is a unique hand woven fabric of Igbo women of Akwete in Abia State, Nigeria. The fabric was originally referred to as “Akwa Miri” (Cloth of the water) which means towel and mostly weaved by the women on a vertical loom. Akwete cloth weaving is said to be as old as the Igbo nation.
Adire (Ah-DEER-eh) is the name given to indigo dyed cloth produced by Yoruba women of South Western Nigeria using a variety of resist dye techniques. Adire translates as tie and dye, and the earliest cloths were probably simple tied designs on locally-woven hand-spun cotton cloth much like those still produced in Mali. In the early decades of the twentieth century, the new access to large quantities of imported shirting material made possible by the spread of European textile merchants in certain Yoruba towns, notably Abeokuta, enabled women dyers to become both artists and entrepreneurs in a booming new medium.