Sunday, December 16, 2012

African Textile Use and Creation

Some of the eye catching and unique textile patterns of Africa caught my eye and I decided to look up a bit of background on some of these beautiful creations. I find it amazing how more African Americans are not immersed in fashion designs based on these textiles. I seems like there is so much potential for mutual benefit to be had in developing relationships with the creators of these quality materials. I can see custom handmade clothing from original high grade African textiles that are imported using only quality controlled mateterials. Even commercially produced textiles using designs created by African artisans can be used in some manner. Everyone wears clothes the only thing preventing the popularity of this material among brothers and sisters in America is the lack of creative marketing.

Ndomo is a textile workshop where traditional and modern cloths are designed and made, using natural dyes from leaves, bark, and clay. This process is called 'bogolan', or mud cloth. This center was founded in 1990 by Boubacar Doumbia. It is located in Pelengana, close to the city of Ségou (Mali). The term Ndomo refers to the first phase of the (former) Bamana initiation societies, through which young people are integrated into social life. Solidarity, sharing and a sense of responsibility are traditional values of the Bamana, one of the largest ethnic groups in Mali. Ndomo offers social security and stability by offering education based on local knowledge, and jobs. This film consists of fragments of the dvd "Ndomo - solidarité et partage", Samaké Records 08, and lasts 4,5 minutes. (see:

A Sierra Leonean with 15 years in Bamako's Tie Dye industry explains the ins and out and much loved making of the 'bamako bazin'.

Adire (Yoruba — tie and dye) textile is the indigo dyed cloth made in south western Nigeria by Yoruba women, using a variety of resist dye techniques. As the translation of the name suggests, the earliest pieces of this type were probably simple tied designs on cotton cloth handspun and woven locally (rather like those still produced in Mali), but in the early decades of the 20th century new access to large quantities of imported shirting material via the spread of European textile merchants in Abeokuta and other Yoruba towns caused a boom in these women's entrepreneurial and artistic efforts, making adire a major local craft in Abeokuta and Ibadan, attracting buyers from all over West Africa. The cloth's basic shape became that of two pieces of shirting material stitched together to create a women's wrapper cloth. New techniques of resist dyeing developed, such as "adire eleko" (hand-painting designs onto cloth with a cassava starch paste prior to dyeing), along with a new style more suited to rapid mass production (using metal stencils cut from the sheets of tin that lined tea chests, using sewn raffia and/or tied sections, or folding the cloths repeatedly before tying or stitching them in place). Most of the designs were named, with popular ones including the jubilee pattern, (first produced for the silver jubilee of George V and Queen Mary in 1935), Olokun ("goddess of the sea"), and Ibadadun ("Ibadan is sweet"). However, by the end of the 1930s the spread of synthetic indigo and caustic soda and an influx of new less skilled entrants caused quality problems and a still-present collapse in demand. Though the more complex and beautiful starch resist designs continued to be produced until the early 1970s, but despite a revival prompted largely by the interest of US Peace Corps workers in the 1960s, never regained their earlier popularity. In the present day simplified stencilled designs and some better quality tie & die and stitch-resist designs are still produced, but local taste favours "kampala" (multi-coloured wax resist cloth, sometimes also known as adire by a few people).

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