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The Fabric From Africa [Must Know]

In the fashion world today, the use and love people have in the fabric from Africa are now changing constantly. We all lookout for something new, different, and exciting.

African fabric forms part of cultural identity and an emblem of cultural heritage. Actually, in Africa, there are a variety of fabrics from different groups of people

African fabrics have bright colors, idiosyncratic designs, and hand-made patterns which give us a sense of rich cultural meaning.

But is there more to know about African fabrics and why it is significant?

Traditionally, fabric from Africa was worn for special occasions such as family reunions, weddings, and events.

These fabrics would not be worn for any particular significance or importance.

You will find more on this page about the fabric from Africa, starting with history, how they were made, and different African fabrics.

African Fabrics Short History

Ancient Days

Fabric From Africa

African people have a long history of producing intricate textiles, which we know from evidence ranging from the fabrics themselves to renderings on ancient tombs and pyramids.

Let gist briefly about fabrics from Africa in the ancient days.

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African textiles were often made of animal hair and woven. Some of the oldest surviving African textiles were discovered at the archaeological site of Kissi in northern Burkina Faso.

They are made of wool or fine animal hair in a weft-faced plain weave pattern.

From 5,000 B.C.E., Ancient Egyptians were known to cultivate flax to weave linen. Early hieroglyphics, sculptures, and pyramids depicted Egyptians in cloth dress, and by 2,000 B.C.E., renderings of early looms were discovered on Egyptian tombs alongside remnants of linen materials.

The first looms were of the ground type and had no heddles. Later, single-heddle looms, which were operated by two people, were found in the tombs.

By the 18th Dynasty in Egypt, looms were vertically mounted, had a single heddle, and were secured against a wall or tree during operation by male workers.

Not just the Egyptians, but other countries in Africa also produce awesome textiles too. For instance, the Nubians in the ancient city of Meroe (who were Egypt’s neighbors to the south) were famous for producing strong woven textiles

In Cameroon, there was a long history of making fabric from tree bark. Other African tribes used animal hides, furs, and even feathers in textiles.

Modern Era

Fabric From Africa

During modern times, North African societies continued to emphasize the use of natural fibers – such as cotton, wool, palm, jute, flax, and silk – for weaving practices.

The characteristics of woven products that attracted Africans included: colorful yarns, textured fabrics, applique designs, embroidery, and dyeing.

Some Fabrics are made of pieces of cotton, wool, animal hair, and so on and are put through a mechanized technique of waxing to create designs.

The Yoruba people of Nigeria incorporated batik into their culture and it gained immense popularity.

Batik designs are forms of expression, communicating everything from marriage and mood to politics and religion.

Different Fabric From Africa Textiles

A cloth can be used to commemorate a certain person, event, and even a political cause. African textiles also have significance as historical documents.

African fabric forms part of cultural identity and an emblem of cultural heritage. Actually, in Africa, there are a variety of fabrics from different groups of people.

Let get to know about Africa respected fabrics.

Ankara – Nigeria(West Africa)

Fabric From Africa

Ankara Ankara Ankara!!! Isn’t it the capital of Turkey? It is the capital of Turkey and it is also the name of a popular fabric worn by many Africans. 

So what is Ankara? Ankara is popularly known as Africa wax print.

It is a 100% cotton fabric with vibrant patterns. It is usually a colorful cloth and is primarily associated with Africa because of its tribal-like patterns and motifs.

The print gained its popularity globally in 2010 but it has been in existence for many years

Ankara was originally manufactured by the Dutch for the Indonesian textile market, however, the prints gained significantly more interest in West African countries because of the tribal-like patterns. 

It is formerly known as Dutch wax print by African Print Dutch Company Vlisco. Why not see how this fabric will be perfect for you?

Check out the latest Ankara gown styles for ladies, and also Ankara shirt styles for guys to see how much Ankara is cool.

Kente – Ghana

Kente cloth

Kente is a brightly colored cloth consisting of separate strips sewn together, made in Ghana. This cloth is known as “nwentom” in the Akan – ethnic group of South Ghana.

The Kente cloth is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips.

It has also been adopted by Cote d’Ivoire. The Kente was originally manufactured in yellow and green, but we have now seen the fabric in different colors and designs without losing the Kente pattern.

Around the world, the unique patterns and colors are easily identifiable as a representation of West African culture. … This gives each Kente design its own unique, symbolic value. 

Kente cloth may symbolize the wearer’s status or mark a festive occasion.

Shwe Shwe South Africa

Fabric From Africa

In my list of the fabric in Africa, Shweshwe has printed dyed cotton fabric widely used for traditional South African clothing.

These fabrics are sometimes called ‘Three Cats’ – a reference to the distinctive logo stamped on the back of the fabric.

It was traditionally used for weddings and family functions and was only produced in three colors (Brown, Red, Blue)

Originally, it was produced in Manchester for export to South Africa. Today, it’s made in South Africa by Da Gama Textiles.

African Prints


The African fabric market is constantly evolving. Many vibrant new Africa inspired designs are appearing in the Da Viva and Woodin ranges of African prints.

It is a proudly inspired fabric in Nigeria. Less expensive than traditional African wax print fabrics, these high-quality prints are making a real splash in African fashion.

Bark Cloth

African Bark Fabric

Barkcloth – one of the first primitive fabrics made in tropical Africa – is still produced by the Baganda people near Lake Victoria.

You can use bark cloth as a creative medium in all sorts of textile art projects, exploiting a variety of techniques: embroidery, patchwork, and quilting embellishing, painting, printing, dyeing, and stamping.

Adire Fabric – Yoruba land, Nigeria


Adire is indigo resist-dyed cotton cloths that were made by women throughout Yorubaland in south-western Nigeria.

Resist-dyeing involves creating a pattern by treating certain parts of the fabric in some way to prevent them from absorbing dye.

Adire was made up of two strips of factory-produced cotton shirting sewn together to form a roughly square shape.

The earliest pieces of this type were probably simple tied designs on cotton cloth handspun and woven locally.

But in the early decades of the 20th-century new access to large quantities of imported shirting material via the spread of European textile merchants in Abeokuta and other Yoruba towns caused a boom in these women’s entrepreneurial and artistic efforts, making Adire a major local craft in Abeokuta and Ibadan, attracting buyers from all over West Africa.

Aso Oke – Yoruba land

aso Oke fabric

Aso-Oke is a short form of Aso Ilu Oke also known as Aso-Ofi meaning clothes from the up-country.

It is the traditional wear of the Yoruba’s (the tribe of the southwest people in Nigeria, Africa). 

The Yoruba’s are the second largest tribe in Nigeria after the Northerners.

Aso-Oke is a cloth that is worn on special occasions by the Yoruba’s usually for chieftaincy, festivals, engagement, naming ceremony, and other important events.

Aso oke cloth is decorated with elaborate patterns made from dyed strands of fabric that are woven into strips of cloth.

These strips of cloth are sewn together to form larger pieces.

Some Aso oke cloth, called “prestige cloth,” has a lace-like appearance with intricate open patterns.

There are Aso-Oke fabrics like the Sanyan type (woven from anaphe wild silk and cotton yarns), Alaari type(woven with either synthetically or locally grown cotton and shinning threads, sometimes with perforated patterns) and also Etu type (bears dark indigo colors with tiny white stripes noted for their simplicity).

Summary of The Fabric From Africa

When we refer to these fabrics as “African”, you are not missing any useful story about it again with what you have known about the fabric from Africa.

The art of making, designing, and embroidering African traditional textiles is as old as time. Fabrics have the quality to adds true value to an outfit.

Good quality of the fabric means higher cost but it is an important factor when deciding what clothes to wear.

The good quality of the fabric is important because it makes wearing an outfit a pleasant experience. The fabric from Africa is well known and good for your outfits.

Try and get some to be cooked for you by your designer.

Drop your comment in the comment section so we can know what you think about African textiles. You can also share this useful information with your loved ones.

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