For some people, the kente cloth of Ghana is more recognizable than the nation’s flag - it is after all older.  The combination of blue, green, yellow, red and magenta in geometric non-figurative motifs are the distinctive work of the Ashanti people - the dominant kingdom of the Gold Coast.  The Ewe people have made some remarkable modifications through the keta cloth by integrating a more muted and cohesive array of colors, as well as by using cotton as the primary material and by introducing figurative patterns.

 

Kente and keta cloths, like many African textiles, are stripwoven - a technique believed to be learned from the Kong weavers of today’s Ivory Coast.  A carpenter-made frame loom operated by foot treadles that move pairs of heddles is used to create the stripweaves.  The process is nearly musical, as if the weaver were a pianist who used rhythm as the tool of engineering but converted sound into motion.  The result is certainly as beautiful as a musical composition but incomplete.  The weaver must add any floating weft work by hand and then sew the stripweaves, usually 16 to 24 pieces, together to form the full and final cloth.

 

The folk textile work of the Ashanti and Ewe people may be perhaps the most globally discernible.  It is not just for Ghanaians or tourists - kente and ewe keta appear in fashion and furnishing around the world.

 

These fabrics also appear in the Kauli Rainy Season collections.  While many African textiles are dark in color and high in contrast because of their use of natural dyes, the fabrics of Ghana add a colorful and varied balance to our celebration and exhibition of the continent’s best fabrics.

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