The History of African Fabrics.

The History of African Fabrics.

Hello, friends! It's been a while since I have posted in this blog space but, in the months to come, I hope to use this space to share information about African fabrics, African culture, and about the work I do. My goal is to
educate, as well as to inspire you as you work with your beautiful African fabrics. We'll start with "The History of African Fabrics."

If you've ever wondered where these beautiful prints originated, this post tells about three popular African prints. 
Africa is a land of patterns. From its eye-catching artwork and beautiful landscapes, Africa is rich with some of the world’s most compelling motifs. A trip around the continent will welcome you to beautiful patterns and colours from its people, language, clothing, culture, and architecture. Many patterns can be found in African fabric which has now gained international prominence. Celebrated for their brilliance, African fabrics are patterned differently, native to different parts of the continent, and symbolize different things. Three popular

African patterns are described in this post.

The Akwete Cloth

Woven in Ndoki town of Akwere, Ukwa, Abia state, Nigeria, making Akwete cloth used to be a task that women carried out to pass time in the mid-19th century until it became an entrepreneurial endeavour. Soon the women began to design fabrics with different patterns for different reasons. There were women whose patterns were inspired in their dreams. There were also patterns that were inspired by what someone wanted.

For instance, when a woman who was not skilled in this art asked for an Akwete to be made for her, they would ask her what she wanted to say through it or what symbolism she wanted to ascribe to it, then, they would take that brief and make an Akwete that was unique to her. However, there was one pattern that could only be worn by the royal family. It is called ikaki. 

The ikaki was so revered that it was believed that people who were not of royalty who wore it could be sold into slavery. 

The Kuba Fabric
Woven by the people of Congo, this fabric is one that is pregnant with stories in each colour, stroke and curve
that makes up the patterns designed into it. These patterns are designed on the fabric using the leaf of the raffia tree. 
The Kuba cloth
What is most unique about the Kuba fabric is the non-generic manner of its patterns. No two Kuba fabrics are the same. Each one is unique. 

The Kente
Made by the people of Ghana, the kente (translated to mean ‘basket’ in Asante) is one of the most popular African fabrics. Legend has it that it was inspired by two farmers who came across a spider web which was beautifully woven. Awed by the vibrant patterns of the web, they replicated the designs with fabric and presented it to the king. The king loved it so much that their design, the kente, quickly became a traditional attire.
While kentes are recognized for how colourful they are, they were not always so. As a matter of fact, thefirst few kentes anyone ever made were made using black and white fabric. However, the popularity of dyes influenced how they were made, so kente weavers started to be produced in blue, yellow, red, etc.
These colours are not without meaning. 
The black colour is said to signify strength and maturity. 
The red colour signifies blood, passion and strength. 
The gold or yellow colour signifies royalty and wealth.
The blue signifies love, peace and harmony.
The green represents growth, renewal and bountiful harvest.
The maroon (also purple) represents the healing that comes from mother earth and protection from evil. 
Finally, white represents purity, festivity and cleansing. 

Make no mistake about it; Africa is full of patterns, most of which define us as a colourful, proud, bold, and beautiful race. It is this same pattern and pride that we seek to communicate in our choice selection of quality and affordable fabrics at Quilt Africa — a place where we believe everyone should be bold, beautiful, and
colourful in their style.

A special thank you to Sabi Writers for their contributing research for this article.
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