Kente

Kente Designs

Kente Designs

Of all the African textiles, Kente (“KEN-tay”) is arguably the best known and most renowned of all cloths. It is most popularly Known as the icon of African heritage around the globe and can be defined by it’s bold designs, bright colors, multi colored patterns and dazzling shapes.

Kente made from African silk comes from the Ashanti (Akan) word (Kenten) which means basket, because it features a woven look as that of a woven basket and is also inspired by a spiders web. Kente dates back 375 years ago and originated in the Ashanti Kingdom of Ghana and was solely intended to be worn only by the kings, Queens and the chiefs. The royals would notably wear their bright colored Kente cloth to festivals and other important engagements. However over time Kente found it’s way among the Ivory coast and many other West African countries.

Something that most people may not know is that the many geometric patterns featured on the Kente cloth each have specific meanings relating to the history or beliefs of the Ashanti people. Each pattern & design although colorful and rich on the outside is meant to say something about heritage, family, and culture. The designs and color combinations help portray a number of different concepts, such as democratic rule, creativity, life experience of the wearer, religious philosophies and family lines. Kente fabrics thus are not just a way of making a statement about today, but also are a valuable way of maintaining continuity with the collected wisdom of the past, both from personal experience and community experience and history.

Here are some meanings to the colors used within the Kente:

Black — Maturity, intensified spiritual energy

Blue — Peacefulness, harmony and love

Green — Vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal

Gold — Royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity

Grey — Healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash

Maroon — The color of mother earth; associated with healing

Pink — Associated with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red

Purple — Assoc. with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women

Red — Political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death

Silver — Serenity, purity, joy; assoc. with the moon

White — Purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions

Yellow — Preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility

Here are some of the Kente Patterns described:

(Niata – Two-edged sword)
(Ohene Anewa – The king’s eye, The king sees everything)
(Nkyimkyim – Zigzag, Life is not a straight path)
(Afa – I have taken it)

With the evolution of Kente since it was first produced, people around the world are beginning to embrace it; from presidents, to celebrities and more. Kente cloth is now infused on the fashion runways of Paris, Milan, New York and more in the form of dresses, shoes, shirts, pants, bags, accessories and so much more.

More than ever Kente cloth, whether it is faux kente or the Kente-Cloth; it has seen it’s rise in pop culture and can be seen worn on a bevy of celebrities.

Notable People & Celebrities in Kente cloth as well as recent mainstream Kente fashion designs below:

 (Former U.S President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary Clinton sporting their Kente cloth in 1998 on their visit to Ghana. They are standing by Ghana’s former president Jerry Rawlings at Accra’s Independence Square)
(Solange Knowles rocks some Kente before a red carpet appearance)
 
(Singer Elle Varner is bold in her colorful and bright Kente)

 

(An Adidas Kente designed sneaker shoe by designer Jeremy Scott)
Kente worn by a royal Below:
(Regal Kente worn in 1930 by Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II as he sits on his golden stool)

 

There has definitely been many changes to the Kente cloth itself over the past few centuries. In early years, all of the thread used to produce Kente was made from silk. Today, cloth is made from rayon, cotton, and silk, making it affordable for a greater number of people. New patterns with new meanings are constantly being designed, but many of the original patterns are still used in weaving. Although the use of Kente has become more widespread, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem with Akans.

The particular place where Kente was conceived within the Ashanti Kingdom known as Bonwire; till this day is the most famous center for the Kente cloth weaving.

Kente-Designs

Click here for more selections of Kente Designs and Fabrics.

 

[Photo Credit] Circa, McNamee Reuters, Elle Varner, Solange Knowles, Jeremy Scott

Black History Month

Some of many important people in Black History

Some of many important people in Black History

Black History Month is a month celebrated in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada commemorating people with significant achievements as well as events in the history of the African Diaspora.

Black History Month is also referred to as African-American History Month, Black month, Black Heritage Month, Black Culture Month and many more.

Abraham Lincoln played a huge role in the abolition of slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Black History Month stemmed from the progress made after the abolition of slavery.

Carter Woodson and Rev. Jesse E. Moorland are pioneers of Black History Month in the United States. Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, Donald Oliver, and Jean Augustine also made contributions to the wide recognition of Black History Month in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Black History Month is celebrated in the United States, Germany and Canada in February and in the United Kingdom, in October. It is typical for people celebrating Black History Month to do so in African Clothing. Dashiki Shirts, Caftans, African Print wears, Brocade apparels are some Popular African Clothing worn during Black History Month celebrations. Children are also involved in Black History Month celebrations.

African Clothing is worn even outside of Black History Month because of the vibrant colors, intricate designs and more.  African Clothing is generally comfortable, unique and elegant. Click here to see some Authentic Black History Month Clothing.

Black History Month celebrations are popular with Dance Groups, Religious institutions, Educational institutions, and many more. Black History Month is also celebrated by well wishers from other races.

Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Bessie Smith are some names of African-Americans celebrated during Black History Month as they are activists that pushed for equality for African-Americans in the United States. There are many other African-Americans celebrated during Black History Month in the areas of sports, entertainment, science and many more.

Black History is always going to be very important in American History.

 

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is here again!

Just in case you are wondering what Kwanzaa is or where the name Kwanzaa came from, below is some information about Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa came from the Swahili (Common East African Language) string of words matunda ya kwanza which means “first fruits”. Maulana Karenga (RonaldEverett), a professor or African studies in the 1960s created and publicized Kwanzaa in an effort to dedicate a period in which Black heritage would be celebrated. Kwanzaa according to Professor Karenga has seven core principles also known as Nguzo Saba. The principles are:

Self-Determination, Unity, Purpose, Creativity, Faith, Responsibility and Collective Work, and Cooperative Economics.

Kwanzaa is celebrated for a week long. It is celebrated from the 26th of December until the 1st of January. kwanzaa is widely celebrated in the United States, Canada and some West African countries.

Kwanzaa colors are Red, Black and Green.

Generally African-Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa also celebrate Christmas.

Click here to view some African Clothing that may be suitable for Kwanzaa events.

 

Dashiki

Dashiki, also known as “Danchiki” by the Hausas, pronounced dan-she-key is a loose-fitting shirt or tailored shirt, (often V-shaped) often with elaborate or simple embroidery patterns around the neck, chest, and sleeve lines. The shapes of the neckline may also vary. Some Dashikis come with closed necklines, some V-neck lines, square-neck lines, and many other shapes and forms. Dashikis are widely worn in West Africa. However, over the years it has gained popularity in other parts of Africa.

Dashikis come in different patterns and designs. However, the basic look is preserved. Dashikis may include a few traditional buttons, a clip button, Velcro, or a hook and eye closure to secure the neckline.

Dashikis are generally made out of African print, Brocade, Lace, Silk, Suiting, or Cotton fabrics.

African Print Dashiki:

Brocade Dashiki:

Lace Dashiki:

Dashiki in Suiting Fabric:

Hand Painted Cotton Dashiki:

Dashikis can be worn by men or women depending on the cut and the style of the Dashiki. Dashikis are also worn by children.Dashikis can be casual or dressy.

It is not uncommon to see Dashikis with embroidered symbols. Adinkra symbols, created by the Gyamans in Cote d’Ivoire (ivory coast) and the Akan of Akanland are a common type of symbol found on Dashikis.

A Black Dashiki is appropriate to wear to a funeral in Nigeria unless otherwise stated. Many West African cultures adopt this convention as well. In Ghana, Red is worn by the immediate family and Black by friends. Black is worn to mourn the death of young people. White with a touch of Black is worn when the deceased lived a long life. Black Dashikis can also be worn to celebrations, weddings, religious occasions, special events, casual events and more. Black Dashikis/Clothing are not only worn to funerals.

Purple and Gold is generally a celebratory combination of colors in many African cultures. The combination is considered regal and can be worn to weddings, special events, and more. White and Gold is another popular combination for weddings, birth ceremonies, religious events and more.There are other popular combinations — Brown and Gold, Blue and Silver and many other combinations.

All shades of colors are generally worn all year round in Africa contrary to the perception of wearing certain colors of Dashikis during particular seasons. Colors range from Gold, Black, Purple, Pink, Lime Green, Dark Green, Yellow, Blue, white, red and more. These colors are worn by Women, Men and children irrespective of the Hue.

There are several types of Dashikis. Dashikis can be worn with pants (typically draw string pants). This style is typically known as Old school by the Yorubas, a tribe in Nigeria, West Africa.

Dashikis could be above knee length coupled with draw string pants, often referred to as Senegalese

Dashikis could also consist of a Top, pants and a Robe, widely referred to as Agbada, Babariga, Joromi, Grand boubou and more

Dashikis made its way to the American market during the African-American political and cultural struggles in the 1960s. A good number of African-American icons began to wear Dashikis in place of western suits and ties to depict a sense of pride in their African Heritage. Dashikis found its way to cinemas, movies, plays, events, communities and more. The Dashiki fashion was perceived by society to be different in that, it was loose fitting, could be worn tucked out of pants, the colors were often vibrant, the style was very different from conventional clothing at the time and more.

Dashikis have evolved over the years. While the original styles are still widely worn, there are many contemporary styles that are getting a lot of steam in Africa as well as in the western world. Dashikis have been incorporated in many African-American communities for special events, religious occasions, and casual events. Dashikis and other forms of African Clothing are worn by hundreds of thousands of people across the United States during African-American celebrations. Black history month is one of those celebrations. It is celebrated in the month of February by African-Americans and well wishers commemorating African heritage. Black history month is also celebrated in other countries. Canada and the United Kingdom are some of those countries. Black history month may vary depending on the country where it is being celebrated. Kwanzaa is another celebration. Kwanzaa is observed from December 26th to January 1st. It is a celebration observed by the United States and Canada celebrating African-American African-Canadian culture and heritage.

Dashikis shirts can also be worn casually. They can be worn with a pair of jeans, linen pants and more. Dashikis can be worn with or without a hat.

For a wide selection of Dashikis, please click here

 

African Prints

Genuine African prints are generally 100% cotton. They are worn across the continent of Africa, most especially, in West Africa. Tie-Dye is generally believed to be one of the earliest forms of African print. Tie-Dye is a process of tying and dyeing clothing or fabrics (usually cotton) to give distinctive patterns. The Fabric or Clothing is tied (typically with strings) in sections to set boundaries for the dye. This in turn, yields a distinctive pattern.

 

There are also some other forms of Tie-Dye:

Kampala: A type of African Print Tie-Dye with a substantial amount of wax application. The fabric would appear to have a sheen at the end of production because of the wax application. Brocade (solid cotton fabric with patterns in fabric) fabrics are generally used when making Kampala designs.

Batik: Batik prints are also another form of tie dye also using wax application. The Fancy designs are hand painted (mostly applied with cassava paste, a chicken feather and a string of broom).

Indigo: Indigo dyed clothing, also known as Adire by the Yoruba tribe in Southern Nigeria.

There are several other forms of Tie Dye techniques.

With technology, African prints have evolved into more complex patterns. Several name brands have also evolved. Sunflag, Akosombo, Hollandis, Woodin are some of these African print name brands. Ankara, Abada, Kitenge, Wax print, are some other names for African Print. African prints are generally made into Tops and Wrappers in the rural areas in Africa.

There are several ways of wearing an African Print Wrapper. Typically, younger people gravitate towards the “Old School” style below when wearing an African print Wrapper.

And for Men, here is an African print Grand Boubou below. A Grand Boubou generally consists of a Dashiki, Pants and a Robe. It can be worn with a matching African print hat or a hat made out of a different material.

Below are some African print Dashiki tops and pants for Men

African prints are worn by Men, Women and Children. A whole family can also be dressed in the same print.

Matching African print skirts and tops are usually lined with a 100% cotton material. Many African print dresses are lined as well. Matching African print tops and wrappers (excluding Senegal and a few other African countries), Men’s African Print matching sets and children African print sets are generally not lined. African prints are generally not see through. Some African print patterns have some significance. However, most of them are abstract.

Modern day prints over the past few years have been picking up steam amongst both the young and the old. This is not surprising when you take into consideration the bold and intricate print patterns. Icons, especially in the Fashion, Music, and Film industry have been spotted wearing African print clothing. African prints can be made into dresses, tops, skirts, wrappers, and sets for women. It is also common to see women wear African print head wraps with African print Clothing as well as western clothing.

For a wider selection of African print clothing for Men, Women and Children as well as African print fabrics, click here

 

 

 

African Clothing

African clothing and African attire have come a long way. There is a wide array of various different African clothing and these come in different styles, colors, design and materials. There are clothing for women, clothing for men as well as suitable clothing for kids. The clothing are designed to suit various occasions and functions, such as formal wear for formal occasions, casual everyday wear and even exotic African wear. There are plenty of accessories as well, such as head wraps (Gele), belts, caps, hats, African shoes, bangles, bags and many more.

There are a good number of able, respected and experienced African wear designers. They have learnt to blend traditional African attire with modern trends and materials. Most African designers use traditional African prints, designs, batiks, patterns and many others. Most of these were usually hand sewn without the use of modern machines to put them together. However, modern African clothing often use modern machines and designs to come up with the attire. Designers of official, authentic African wear are now attending design schools in order to develop and generate even better quality clothing.

When looking for suitable African attire, it is best to consult some of the renowned names in the industry. It is also good and advisable to search for authentic African wear for certain occasions. Most customers around the world love African attire for general and official functions. Others love African attire for their elaborate weddings with exquisite African clothing designs for bridal parties (Aso Ebi)

. African Clothing features prominently at African Weddings, not just in Africa but across various African communities around the world. Weddings are usually great social events and are a major forum for display of fashion, accessories and great clothing designs. There are also great African jewelry that adorn African wear. African jewelry has vast origins, with the jewelry originating from most parts of Africa. Fashion may also vary from the East to the West, north and south.

Couples or families that intend to host an African wedding may benefit from using great, modern African wear for the occasion. The entire ceremony may come with an African theme. This may be expressed in the food, decor, style and theme of the entire wedding. There are African clothing consultants and African fashion designers who can provide invaluable advice to the interested parties. Official African events, especially overseas but on the continent as well, can be graced by an unofficial African wear that attendants can wear. Attendants can choose varying African clothing for various occasions.