One of the best things about being an African bride is the rich selection of fabrics to choose from. Who wouldn’t love all those distinctive designs and vibrant colors?
Whether you use them in your dress, on your invitations or even as table décor incorporating authentic fabrics is a fun way to celebrate your culture.
But did you know that most African fabrics have a specific meaning and history?
We’ve broken down some of the most popular fabrics used to make African clothing and accessories.
This is probably the most well-known African fabric. Kente is an Asante ceremonial woven cloth, adopted in the Ivory Coast and many other West African counties. It has distinct multi-colored patterns, shapes and bold designs. Each color and pattern has a different meaning usually relating to a proverb, historical event, moral values or plants and animals.
Mudcloth or Bògòlanfini is handmade cotton cloth from Mali which is traditionally dyed with mud. Each piece of mudcloth has its own unique story to tell. The patterns are rich in cultural significance, and can refer to historical events, mythological concepts or proverbs.
Ankara material has vibrant patterns with rich colorful designs. This durable, lightweight fabric has become very trendy and even made its way to luxury designer brands like Burberry, Givenchy and Moschino. However, Ankara was originally manufactured by the Dutch for the Indonesian textile market but was later diverted to West Africa. Although it may not have its roots in African history this fabric is very versatile and can be used on for anything from iPhone cases to notebooks.
Asoke cloth, a traditional cloth of the Yoruba, is a heavy cotton blend that comes from Nigeria. This expensive fabric usually has eyelet holes and has brightly colored embroidery. It’s worn for special occasions such as religious ceremonies, funerals and weddings. The agbada, a tunic or robe usually worn by grooms, is created from this kind of fabric.
Batiks are cotton fabrics with designs painted on them using wax-resistant dying. In Africa, Yoruba make Adire cloths this way using cassava paste instead of wax. The patterns are a form of expression announcing everything from marital status, to political and religious beliefs.