African Textiles

Textiles are a way of giving an insight into many different African cultures, being a major way African’s define themselves. Textiles are created not only for personal adornment but also being a source of communication. Significance given to colour choice, design and medium used in their creation supports and endorses hierarchy within a tribe. Occasions commemorating and celebrating weddings, funerals, naming ceremonies are just some of their uses and values of importance.
Our textiles collection
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From the most eleborate gown or crown to everyday costume and head wear, dressing and adorning the head and body are essential elements of traditional clothing and act as important means of identifying particular facts about the wearer, such as rank and status, religious belief, ethnic and regional affiliation.

Cloth may also carry a combination of visual images and / or written inscriptions which provide ways of communicating public and personal messages. Textile traditions over Africa have provided sources of inspration for some of Africa’s foremost contemporary artists.

Making and trading cloth have been vital elements in African life and culture for at least two millennia, linking different parts of the continent with one another and with the rest of the world.

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