FabAfriq Magazine

Names and Significance of Some African Fabrics

Baoule fabric

Nowadays African Fabrics are more in fashion. Ladies and even men wear attires and accessories made of African Fabrics. Traditionally, these fabrics were worn for special occasions such as community gartherings, family reunions, and events held in an association. The fabrics were not just worn for the sake of wearing but they had a particular significance and meaning. Being an emblem of cultural heritage, the loin cloth or African fabric is also a cultural identity. Actually in Africa, you have a variety of fabrics from different groups of people.

The Baoule is a traditional fabric in Cote d’Ivoire woven in 5 inch wide swaths of fabric. The swaths are then sewn together to make loins. These loins are very heavy and thick. They are used today in designing bags, shoes, and dresses.

Capulana is the traditional loin cloth in Mozambique. Originally it had only three colors, white, black and red. But, today, there are many colors and patterns.

In Nigeria,  Adire is the name given to indigo dyed cloth produced by Yoruba women. It means litteraly Tie and dye 

Saso Dan fani
Saso Dan fani literally means woven loin cloth of the country. It is a piece of material with 12-15 cm width and 50 cm long, traditionally made by women in Burkina Faso. Former President of the country Thomas Sankara considered it as national emblem and created institutions for women to produce and sell them. A way of empowering them.

Bogolan/Mud Cloth
Bogolan means ‘made from mud’ in Bambara, the main language of Mali. The dyeing and printing of cotton is entirely organic and safe to the environment. It contains no harmful chemicals and it uses dried leaves and tree bark as dye material.

This cloth, known as "nwentom" in Akan, is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the Akan ethnic group of South Ghana. It has been adopted by people of Cote d’Ivoire.

Yoruba, Nigeria’s a hand loomed cloth woven by the Yoruba people of western Nigeria. Aso oke means top cloth in the English language. Usually woven by men, the fabric is used to make men's gowns, called Agbada, women's wrappers, called iro, and men's hats, called fila.

These fabric are the most common ones and used throughout the world by fashion designers. There are many other fabrics which are not yet known and are less common. In the nearest future, as fashion is evolving and people are more concerned with their cultural values, we might experience new blends of traditional and modern loin cloths. 

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