Awale Mag

Magazine for Africa's Creativity

Auteur/Author: Aissatou GAYE

African textiles

Let’s discover African fabrics. People usually think of Wax fabric when talking about african textiles but as we told you on a previous article, the wax fabric comes from Indonesia, where in the 19th century, the Dutch colonizers, inspired by Javanese batik, resumed this dyeing method by applying wax to better fix the colors. If there is an African industry of wax, a quick glance at our traditions and cultures allows us to discover many African fabrics. Here is a brief overview.


Bogolan is a textile native to West Africa mainly Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. Etymologically, the term bogolan comes from the Bambara word ‘bogo’ ‘and’ ‘lan’ respectively meaning ‘earth’ ‘and’ ‘with’ ‘. It is a tissue whose making and wearing are rooted in African traditions. Find here a post of blogger Lucrece Gandigbe: Discovering Bogolan . You will learn more about the legend of its creation, its meticulous achievement and uses of Bogolan today.

Kita or Kenté

Kente cloth originated from the Ashanti people of Ghana and the EWE people of Togo and Ghana. It is the garnement of kings. Kenté is woven from silk or cotton threads and is handmade on a wooden loom. The loom produces a fabric of about 9.5 cm wide. On the same fabric strip, several weaving methods can be applied. Then the strips are stitched together to form a larger piece. The Ashanti kenté usually features geometric patterns in bright colors while the Ewé kenté looks like Tweed.Find more on our article about Kente .


Baoulé cloth

Baoule loincloth is a variant of Kenté loincloth, made in Ivory Coast by the Baoule people. Baoule are an ethnic group inside the bigger Akan group. Its uniqueness compared to traditional Kente weaving is its vertical lines. The patterns, if any, are generally thinner than those of Kente. The Baoule loincloth is made in the famous village of Bomizambo, often with cotton son. The cities of Toumodi, Dimbokro, Tiébissou, Yamoussoukro located in the center of the country are also recognized for the quality of their Baoule loincloth.



In Middle Guinea, ” Lepi ” which is also a traditional Fulani fabric of Fouta Jalon, represents the values of this community. This kilt is hand-woven and dyed with indigo, a simple and genuine inspiration. According to Fulani tradition , the one wearing ths loincloth is immune against wizards that cannot hurt him. In villages, the brides usually wear this tissue during traditional weddings.

Shuka Masai

The Masai Shuka is a traditional fabric of East Africa, typical of Masai people in Kenya. It’s a piece of cotton, it looks like a plaid and usually is blue and red. This plaid fabric is worn by Maasai men, draped around the body and tied at the shoulder.
You have Kikoy and Khanga as other traditional fabrics from Kenya.
There are many African traditional fabrics in every country, every ethnic group: catapulana in Mozambique; The Bamileke Ndop in Cameroon, the shweswhe in South Africa …

Our cultural heritage and African textile abounds in different kinds of tissues. it isup to local designers to showcase and export them on the international fashion scene.

The possibilities are endless, the creativity also.

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Auteur/Author: Aissatou GAYE

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