African Textiles

Published: 17 February 2021

This first hanging comes from the Ivory coast in West Africa. It is made from nine strips of woven fabric lying horizontally and sewn together. The large motifs of people, animals and birds have been boldly painted in a pale yellow ochre dye and are surrounded with a painted zig zag border.

Textiles like this second one, from Mali in West Africa, are often referred to as mud cloths. It is constructed from nine strips of woven fabric lying horizontally and sewn together with a simple over stitch. It has been dyed a mid-brown colour and is decorated with rows of repeating triangles and circles in stripes of white and dark brown. The white areas may be the natural colour of the fabric and the dark brown is probably produced by applying a traditional dye that includes aged mud.

This mat or hanging, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is constructed from four, almost square sections, sewn together. It is made from two layers of fabric woven from a grass-like plant fibre. The top layer is a pale gold colour and has been cut out and applied to the dark brown base fabric with stitching to form a striking geometric pattern.

This last hanging, also from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is made from a fabric woven with plant fibres and dyed a chestnut brown colour. It is made in five, almost square sections, which have been sewn together. A pattern of small openwork rectangles has been formed by cutting out some threads and then binding together the remaining ones to form a contrasting zig zag in cream coloured thread. Around these, a distinctive pattern of diamonds and rectangles has been formed with dark brown embroidered knots and applied cream cowrie shells