African Textiles Tell a Story

Arguably, the most noteworthy of the many African decorative arts are the textiles that come from the continent. More than just a way to create fabric, weaving in many African tribal cultures was and is a way to celebrate life and create a bond among families. Some of the oldest surviving examples of woven cloth have been found in Africa, in archaeological sites in Burkina Faso and Nigeria. Textiles have traditionally been used in Africa to tell stories and record historic events. Of course, because Africa is so vast and has been inhabited by so many differ- ent people, a variety of unique types of African textiles can be found. Some of the more notable include the following: • Akwete (a unique handwoven cloth, using hemp, raffia, and cotton) and ukara (cotton stamped with nsibidi symbols), from the Igbo people of present-day Nigeria • Adire (tie-dyed cotton) and asa oke (heavy, hand-loomed fabric) from the Yoruba people of present-day Nigeria

Kente cloth is produced on a loom. It is striped interwoven silk and cotton cloth.

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