African Prints were born in West Africa in the colonial times. It all began when the Netherlands brought traditional dyeing techniques of Indonesia, which was one of the colonial states at the time, to the West African countries. The African print has been produced through a variety of techniques, from traditional production methods to modern methods that can be produced in mass production.
The History and Now Of African Prints.
On the other hand, "Kanga," an independent Swahili fabric which was a mix of African and Islamic culture, developed in the East African region where Uganda is located. It is a typical Kanga characteristic to add proverbs such as "Ginna" to the clothing. Ginna is mainly used as a cloth for women to wear. Women dressed in Kanga that best describes their feelings, and they casually gave their own thoughts to people. African prints born in West Africa were introduced and spread to the rest of the African continent including East Africa which has a rich clothes culture.
We purchase african prints made in Ghana, West Africa.
Ghana is the origin of african prints, and African prints with traditional wax-printing methods have been made by a number of established companies. In particular, we regularly purchase them from local companies considering their high quality and environmentally-friendly production processes. Usually, a lot of chemicals and water is used to produce a print, and can be discharged without being purified.
The place we purchase materials from not only reuses the water, but also doesn't harm the environment by allowing the used water back into nature.
Unfortunately, African prints have been exposed to cultural appropriation issues.
The designs developed at factories in Ghana is often illegally copied without permission and sold in local markets all over Africa.
We strictly only purchase fabrics that are certified as "Made in Africa", even if it means to spend a whole day to cross the African continent. We travel from Uganda to Ghana to purchase these fabrics every 3 months. A lable that indicates the name of the factory in Ghana is attached to the material, this way we can know we are making the right choice.
African prints are attractive in terms of bright colours and various designs. In fact, each pattern and design has its own meaning. Here are some of the most popular patterns of the African prints.
For example, the ripple (eye) pattern is a typical design which is a widely appreciated pattern. This pattern is called "Nsubra," which means "well" in Ghana, and it has an image of water dripping in the well, and creating small waves. The meaning behind this is "good or bad, your actions have an effect on others".
The pattern of a Swallow is popular and implies "today's wealth does not guarantee the wealth of tomorrow,". It also describes that wings can grow on money, and if you don't hold on tight, it could fly away anytime. The Swallow has been a symbol of wealth and fortune, maybe this pattern is teaching us how to use our money to achieve happiness.
Not all patterns are about nature, but some are also related to music. The pattern of High Life (HIGH-LIFE) is a music genre called "High Life" originated in African countries, particularly in Ghana and other Anglophone countries. High-life is a general term for popular music that combines Western African and European music. It is said that the spirit of popular music is inherited through such patterns. This is a design that expresses their high interest in music in the African region.
African prints with various meanings behind.. Would you like to find your favourite pattern?
- Pan Fabric Official Website-The History of the Fabric of Africa
- "Kanga Asserting Fu" by Chieko MIMOTO
- African Miscellaneous Co-African PrintSites
- An African print -- a cloth story born in Kyoto, written by Seiji NAMIKI, Seishi UEDA, and Mihoko AOKI
- Kuwala Co. website: African Fabrics 101 NSU BURA https://kuwala.co/blogs/news/40664065-african-fabrics-101-nsu-bura
- Rosefabrics Blog: Names and Meanings of the Designs of African Wax Prints http://blog.rosefabricsgh.com/index.php/2017/07/06/names-meanings-designs-african-wax-prints/
- ADINKRABRAND website: African Wax Prints and Stories behind names https://www.adinkrabrand.com/blog/african-wax-prints-and-the-story-behind-their-names/
- The Voice of Inspiration: Names and Meanings of African Print https://enam98.wordpress.com/2016/12/11/names-meaning-of-african-print/