The African fabric shop : a little gem in the heart of Yorkshire
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African fabric shopYorkshire is known for many things: its green hilly pastures where sheep peacefully graze all day long, its cycling tradition or its infamous dish, the Yorkshire pudding. I headed there for another reason: for Yorkshire harbors a little gem: a small African fabric shop.

Nestled in the small town of Meltham, at the end of a scenic drive, the shop is located in an office building. I had given prior notice of my visit and upon arrival, I met Isobel, the shop assistant and Magie who owns the shop with her Husband.

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Manjak Fabric : A journey into the senegalese weaving tradition
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Lauren here again, reporting from Senegal. The last time we met on the Obatala blog, we were admiring the deep, saturated hues and rich history of Indigo fabrics produced in Senegal and neighboring countries.

This time, in line with the previous posts on gorgeous woven Kente cloth, we will dive into « pagne tissé », another type of traditional woven fabric, which has a long tradition here in Senegal.

textiles Manjak or Pagne Tisse of Senegal
Pagne tissé Manjak, on display at CAMEE (Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers de l’Élégance) in St. Louis, Senegal.

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Meet Gideon, the Kente Cloth weaver
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Kente Weaver

Kente is woven into the identity of some Ghanaians. While we have talked at length about the cloth itself and its origin, little is said about the Kente weavers who are always men, contrary to other countries like Nigeria where women weave as well. So we reached out to Gideon Gamado of Bigdreadkente to learn more about how one becomes a Kente Weaver.

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What is Kente Cloth: Tales of its origin & name.
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African textiles: Kente Patterns

Kente Cloth, with its vibrant colors and bold geometric patterns is one of the most recognizable traditional African textiles. Although it has come to symbolize Ghana, it is also woven in neighboring Ivory Coast and Togo (West Africa). Nowadays, Kente’s distinctive patterns are printed onto various materials destined for numerous uses; from fashion accessories to homeware and anything in between. While its usage increases, there is little known about the cloth itself, its origin and how it came to become so popular. So we picked up some African textiles literature and went back to the source with weaver Gideon Gamado in Ghana to learn more.

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An Indigo-colored dream; Searching for “blue gold” at MUFEM in Dakar
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African indigo textiles, with their dark, rich hues and ethereal, geometric motifs have become a recent trend in Western home décor. They are among some of my favorite prints – I remember going through stacks of them on my first trip to Sandaga market in downtown Dakar, in absolute awe of each and every print.

But where exactly does this fabric come from and how is it made? The exhibit entitled “Sur les Traces de l’Or Bleu / Mémoire de l’Indigo Au Sénégal” at La Musee de la Femme Henriette Bathilly in Dakar brings visitors into the world of local fabric makers to answer these questions.

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