Discovering African fabrics...

In this post, I will make you discover the various African fabrics as the bazin, the veil of Mauritania, the Daso Dan Fani, the Ghanaian kente and the royal Ndop from Cameroon... Ndop royal du Cameroun... All fabrics with names inviting to travel and which won't have any secrets for you anymore...

Discovering African fabrics, Kelen African art promotion

I often talk about wax but Africa is full of rich and varied fabrics depending on the country. And, this time, I wanted to show you the different types of fabrics available that you can you to realise all your creation and decoration wishes.

Before we start, I just want to mention that some of these fabrics, as wax and bazin, are not produced in Africa but imported mainly fromGermany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and now China, while the main buyers are African.

Did you know that there was more than 120 million consumers of loincloths and that this number is keeping on increasing?.

Bazin, a multifunctional fabrics

This piece of fabrics is worn by men and women alike mainly during important ceremonies as weddings, funerals or christenings. The particularity of this fabrics is the flawless draping and the unquestionable elegance it brings to any outfit.

Thus, attending a wedding or a christening is a real pleasure for the eyes, as men, but especially women, compete in beauty by wearing outfits with rich and diversified patterns and colors.

The bazin is a 100% cotton white fabric, made mainly in Europe, damask, stained and starched thanks to a soaking in a rubber bath. The cloth is then hit by “bazin hitters” with a wooden mallet on a block. Thus, the simple cotton fabric is transformed into a noble bazin. Embellished with edging and stitching, it becomes the perfect outfit for any special occasion. The word "bazin" comes from Italian where "bambagia" refers to cotton wadding. Bazin is a damask fabric originally from England which motifs are woven during the very first production step. The first bazin were very fashionable at the end of the eighteenth century and its production methods jealously kept secret.

There are 3 quality levels of bazin and, according to the level, it can be used as furniture fabrics to create curtains or table clothes or as clothing fabrics.

Mali is the main African producer of bazin and with the best reputation in terms of the quality of the produced fabrics. In Bamako, you will find a multitude of flourishing dyeing shops producing both for local consumption and for other West African countries, as well as for importers from all over the world.

Veil of Mauritania, your best friend for the summer season

The veil is a lightweight cotton fabric appreciated by Mauritanian women who wear it as the base fabric for their boubous. Soninke women from Mauritania have helped popularize the veil beyond the African continent thanks to the rich colors and patterns of the dyes they apply to this cotton fabric.

Women traditionally tie the veil first on the shoulders in the manner of a tunic, then wrap their body inside it and cover their head. It's their everyday clothes.

There are different qualities of fabrics from light veil to percale, embroidery and even silk.

I find this veil, all in transparency, of an absolute femininity. Today, we use this fabric to make skirts, dresses or tunics.The veil of Mauritania is also used a lot in decoration, for curtains curtains for example.

Do you know the Daso Dan Fani, the woven loincloth of Burkina Faso?

“Fasi Dan Fani” means “woven loincloth of the homeland”.

The “Faso danFani” is the symbol of Burkina Faso patriotism. In a country where the non-genetically modified cotton crop is one of the main national sources of income and where the tradition of weaving is very old, these heavy cotton loincloths have quickly become essential for making both traditional and contemporary clothing.

The development of this fabric was supported by a political will, notably thanks to Thomas Sankara. There are many actions of valorization of this textile in Burkina Faso as well as among the diaspora.

The “Faso danfani” is traditionally made as loose tunics for men and women. Lately, designers and stylists seized this fabric to offer chic and modern clothing as men's shirts, women's jackets and dresses.

This textile also does wonders used in interior decoration for cushions or table clothes.

Discover the Ghanaian kente, a royal fabric

Perhaps the best known traditional cultural contribution of Ghana is the Kente fabric, also called « Kita ». This fabric is famous for its shimmering colors and its symbolism.

Kente is made by very experienced weavers. The main weaving centers located in the Ashanti region around Kumasi. You can also find some of them in the Volta region. It is very common to see in these regions many artisans launching their shuttles from right to left to create long strips of Kente fabric. These bands are then sewn together to make the great boubous worn by Ghanaians, especially the chiefs, at major ceremonies.

The colors and patterns are carefully chosen by the weavers and their customers. Each symbol of the Kente fabric has a particular cultural significance.

The large Ghanaian kente can be used for example in plaids, curtains or for making cushions. It’s a perfect fabric to give a royal appearance to your interior, should you use it for your living room, your library or even for your room.

The royal Ndop from Cameroon

As the Faso Dan Fani in Burkina Faso, the Ndop or Dze Ndouop is a Bamileke traditional and ritual Bamileke fabric. The Bamileke is an ethnic group living in Cameroon.

In its original form, the fabric is an assembly of cotton bands stitched edge to edge. White geometric patterns on an indigo blue background give it its particular identity. Ndop Bamileke fabrics are made of cotton woven in narrow bands. If this first stage is carried out in the North of the country, not far from Garoua, it is the Bamileke women who add, with the help of raffia yarn, the patterns that will be dyed in reserve with indigo.

The highly varied decorative repertory is inspired by both motifs adorning the traditional houses and drawings done by the Wukari of Nigeria, a country from where this textile tradition is likely to have originated.

Today as all the other fabrics introduced during this series, the Ndop is used by many stylists and designers. A particular fabric rich of symbolism for a unique clothe...

From all the five fabrics I introduced you to this week, which one was your favorite?

Tell me everything!

A wish for fabrics? Should it be for a furnishing project or for a clothing desire, I can definitely help you realise your craziest dreams by offering you natural and ethic fabrics with incredibly diversified patterns and colors. Contact me and I will be more than happy to guide you in your choices!

Artistically yours,


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