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Fabric Spotlight | Ghanaian Kente Cloth

Fabric Spotlight | Ghanaian Kente Cloth

Traditionally found in Ghana, Kente cloth is also very popular across West Africa. When visiting Senegal, our Head of Adventure, Bee, chose this bold, block patterned design as it reminded her of fond visits to the fabric markets in Ghana. West African cultures have been weaving textiles for thousands of years. The name Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in Akan dialect Asante. Akan people refer to Kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth. Traditional Ghanaian Kente is made by Asante and Ewe weavers using specially designed looms. Kente was probably introduced from the western Sudan during the 16th century, when heavy, elaborate, labor-intensive versions of this fabric were designed for wealthy tribal chiefs. More simplistic designs then followed for everyday use by the common citizen. Traditional Kente is woven in four-inch narrow strips that are then sewn together to create a continuous length of fabric. Geometric shapes and bright colours are common throughout Kente cloth, with the Ewe people also including more illustrative motifs occasionally.  


Traditional Kente being handwoven (image via Flickr)


Originally, Kente cloth was black and white, but dyes were developed from different plants and natural materials and thus a range of colours became available. Blue dye is obtained from the indigo plant, red from dried cam wood, brown from tamarind, and green from boiled spinach leaves. Increased trade between countries also meant more colours became available to Ghanaian weavers. The colours of the Ghanaian national flag (red, yellow, green and black) are very popular in modern Kente cloths. 


Kente cloth being worn (image via MoMa)


Our 'Kente' fabric is inspired by the traditional Kente fabrics of Ghana, however it is produced in Senegal and the pattern is printed directly onto fabric, rather than being woven in the traditional way. The fabric is dyed by using block printing with a wax resist to create the different patterns and colours, usually taking lots of layers to create the final product. This a more affordable option as traditionally made Kente is usually made with silk and is highly sought-after, making it an incredibly expensive material that is usually reserved for wearing on important occasions such as weddings or other cultural celebrations. 



You can shop our range of Kente pet accessories here

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