African Fabric or Dutch Wax Print:
A brief history:
It is fascinating that the stunning fabrics sold in West Africa and worn across the African continent were originally manufactured in Java by the Dutch, then later in Holland and England.
The fabric is often referred to as “Dutch wax Print” and the inspiration behind the technique is batik-dyeing (a technique involving dripping hot wax onto cotton before dyeing it) originating from Indonesia.
Wax cloth is an industrialised imitation of the Batik technique.
Once completed the printed fabric was taken to Africa and sold.
Initially Dutch Wax Print designs were inspired by nature, however during the 20th century, the designs became more representative of the African culture and the prints began to tell
stories that related to African communities. Portraits of important political personalities were added and later the prints were given names.
These days the Dutch Wax fabric is still produced in Holland, England, Ghana, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.
Recently China has started to produce wax print fabric but this is regarded as an inferior quality and does not have the same status as the other fabrics.
The beautiful fabrics made by Vilsco and Woodin are regarded as the "Haute couture of African fabric and design.
The stories the fabric tells:
The textile designs on wax fabric are interwoven with meanings. They tell a story, convey metaphors or well-known African proverbs.
They tell tales of the trials and tribulations of women, including their love life, home life and children. An example of this is the Togolese design called “Wounded heart” Some are inspired by nature, depicting flowers, animals, insects, birds and trees.
Many motifs such as corkscrews tell tails of power in the context of modernisation and development, discussing the pros and cons of the modern, technological world. This can be seen particularly by the inclusion of televisions and computers in the designs. Others provide a visual dialogue, depicting musical instruments, and rhythm. The sound of African drums steadily beating through the design.
When beads are included in a design, it is representative of the African saying “Precious beads make no sound”. This can be transcribed as meaning a successful person shouldn’t blow their own trumpet! In other words don’t boast about your achievements!
Certain designs such as the dice motif represent noble status within the community and senior woman are often seen wearing this traditional print.
Colours have important implications and signification and can be representative of a particular province or region. Some combinations of colours belong to individual tribes.
Ochre is generally used to represent the earth.
Some fabrics are worn as uniforms to show that people belong to a certain group, church or club.
The Website for women with a fun but not frivolous feel