Africa is known for the many forms of distinctive textiles that are produced there and then exported all around the world. Across the continent of Africa there are many different techniques, dyeing methods and weaving styles used by talented artisans to create one of a kind textiles. Native African textiles have many forms and different functions and they hold significant cultural importance depending on where and how they’re made.
Textile weaving is a centuries old tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation over the years. Archaeologists have found and archived ancient textiles from Burkina Faso in the Northern region of the country that date back to the 13th century. Evidence of textile weaving has also been found in caves in Mali that date all the way back to the 11th century. It’s believed that textile weaving techniques originated in Mali and spread across the continent to areas like Ghana, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast.
Nigeria is known for its Aso Oke textile that is also commonly referred to as Indigo Cloth. Aso Oke is a hand-woven cloth that uses a difficult and time consuming artisan technique to be made. Usually weaved with cotton, Aso Oke has a very rich Indigo-Color. It has to be hand dyed multiple times to achieve its deep blue and purple tones. Raw silk is also used in the process of making Aso Oke and it is hand embroidered into the cloth's pattern. Aso Oke is often worn during ceremonies like weddings and religious festivals. Oftentimes artisan textiles are also embroidered with handmade beads and charms. Collectors and Interior Designers also use Aso Oke to decorate the home. Indigo dyeing is also popular in Cameroon and artisans there use similar techniques.
West Africa is known for the traditional Asante Kente Cloth style of textiles. The Ashante have traded Kente for centuries with neighboring African Countries and with European and Arab traders. The Ashante are known for their complex strip-weaving techniques that are used in their colorful Kente Cloth designs. Ashante Kente has a long history and is often associated with royalty. Each color has multiple spiritual meanings. Just to name a few, Black usually represents spiritual energy, ancestors and is often worn at funerals. Blue symbolizes harmony and love. Green is associated with growth, harvest and renewal. Gold signifies royalty, wealth and status. Maroon is associated with healing and Silver signifies joy, serenity.
The handmade spirit of African Textiles is really something to marvel at. So please take a closer look at our selection of traditional Artisan Textiles below. Whether you are looking for a traditional Kente Cloth style, or a unique hand woven Indigo Cloth, we’re sure you’ll be able to find something amazing for your home or personal collection.