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African Printed Cloth – Storytelling with Pattern
African printed cloth has a complex history. Through colonisation Dutch and British companies were able to industrialise early and mechanise the prices of hand made batik cloths made in Java, now Indonesia. The new manufactured fabrics were rejected by Indonesians but found a place within Central and West African markets especially when the patterns were redesigned to reflect the culture of the buyers. The fabric has therefore long been associated with African identity. Naming patterns is a common practice within African societies and it is the salespeople and buyers who usually name the cloths. Cloth names such as ungrateful husband, Addis Ababa and Money Flies are chosen to resonate with buyers, reflect everyday culture and important events. This exhibition explores the names and meanings of some of these patterns.
The African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank