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What are the different African fabrics?

Updated: Jan 26

We all know the African Wax fabric... But there are several other African fabrics whose name you may have already heard: Bogolan, Bazin, Batik, Kente, Shweshwe... Does that tell you something?... I'm going to show you some of my favorites in this article!

African bogolan fabric: fabric of the earth

African fabric bogolan

Bogolan originates from Mali but is also made in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Senegal. It is perpetuated by the traditions of the Sénoufo, Dogon, Malinké and Bambara ethnic groups.

The term "bogolan" refers to both the fabric and the dyeing technique, and means "made with earth" in Bambara.

It is handcrafted, the woven cotton is soaked in a decoction of tree leaves containing a high concentration of tannin, in order to be dyed.

The tribal patterns are then made with freehand mud.

A chemical reaction will then make it possible to obtain the characteristic black color of bogolan.

At the time, only kings and their families could wear these prestigious fabrics. The King of Mali had different colors for each day of the week, so each time he appeared in public, the people knew what day it was. Nowadays bogolan is used for many creations such as dresses, shoes, shirts, decorative accessories...

Bazin fabric

African fabric Bazin

Bazin is a 100% cotton damask fabric made in Europe. The damask is obtained by weaving the patterns into the weft using fine threads of high quality unbleached cotton. It is characterized by its shine, and its damask patterns. The patterns are obtained by weaving fine unbleached cotton threads. It makes it possible to sew clothes embellished with embroidery and topstitching and has an important place during celebrations of festivals such as Ramadan.

The Batik fabric

african fabric batik

The art of batik is very much alive in West Africa. Meaning "written in wax", batik is a hand-made fabric. The prints are drawn in wax, then the fabric is dipped in dye. These fabrics are used to make clothes, t-shirts, table and household linens.

The African fabric Kente (or Kita): the royal attribute

african fabric Kente or Kita

It is a fabric originating from Ghana and Togo. The word "Kente" means "basket" or "woven cloth" in the Akan dialect in Ghana. Kente is an artisanal fabric, made up of several multicolored strips sewn side by side. It is woven in cotton or a mixture of cotton and silk. It is a fabric with geometric designs and dazzling and luminous colors. It occupies an important place in the culture of the Ashanti peoples (Ghana), Akans and Ewes (Ivory Coast). Generally, it is worn during parties and ceremonies. This garment is the symbol of nobility and prestige. The kenté is also the basis of the clothing of the Akan, Ga and Ewe kings and chiefs. Today, we use this fabric to make shirts, blouses, dresses, hats, handbags...

Sweshwe, the South African indigo

african fabric  Sweshwe

Sweshwe is a fabric originating from South Africa. Characterized by its bright colors and repetitive geometric shapes. This fabric is made with thick cotton. This fabric was initially available in indigo, bright red and chocolate. It is now found in new colors such as black, turquoise, green, pumpkin orange, bright pink and yellow-gold. It is used by designers in fashion, decorations and even accessories.

Hope you enjoyed this article? Tell me in the comments which African fabric you prefer and how you use it?

If you want to learn more about African fabrics, it's here :

And if you just want to discover the rest of my blog, it's here :

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