While run of the mill Asante kente cloths woven from rayon thread and mostly dating from the 1970s and after are easy to find, top quality silk cloths woven in the early part of the twentieth century are extremely rare and becoming increasingly difficult to source. The images below show a glimpse of some or our current inventory. Full views and more details on our site at adireafricantextiles.com
Friday, 2 October 2015
Saturday, 26 September 2015
NW513 -Fine and rare Yoruba women's wrapper cloth dating from late C19th or early C20th with an exceptionally complex and subtle array of warp stripes incorporating magenta trans-Saharan silk "alaari" in an indigo dyed hand spun cotton ground. Unlike strip woven aso oke produced by male weavers, these cloths were woven in two wide panels on an upright single heddle loom by a woman weaver. The use of silk in these women's weave wrappers was an established tradition in the C19th and at the start of the C20th, allowing wealthy women to outshine the plainer blue and white style.
However today it is extremely hard to find surviving examples and almost all those we do see have been patched or repaired. These cloths are not well represented in museum collections and published sources, reflecting their rarity but one piece collected before 1890 and now in the American Museum of Natural History, New York may be seen here. This is a particularly fine completely intact example in excellent condition and with an unusually elaborate configuration of stripes. It would have been an heirloom cloth passed down from mother to daughter over several generations. It retains it's very neat hand stitched seams throughout. Measurements: 78ins x 66ins, 200cm x 168cm
Click on the photos to enlarge.‘ To see this cloth and others in our online gallery of Nigerian women’s weaving click here.
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, Bloomington, Indiana August 28 to September 26, 2015
“This September 2015 Lotus Arts and Education Foundation in conjunction with Ivy Tech John Waldron Gallery will present an exhibition of rare and unusual textiles featuring the color red. “Seeing Red: World Textiles” features over forty hand woven and constructed textiles dating from Egyptian to modern times. Seven Indiana collectors -- Suzanne Halvorson, Joan Hart, William Itter, Barbara Livesey, Harold Mailand, and George Malacinski, met this past February to review and select textiles from their collections composed of every shade of red. All of the textiles revealed that red can be a dominant color that shapes and defines a textile’s ingenious construction and cultural prominence. Not only is red a color of great optical range, it is a color of many personal, emotional, and theoretical meanings. This exhibit ventures to explore the diversity of red and its identity as a beautiful color. This exhibit opens Friday, August 28th, and concludes Saturday, September 26th, the weekend of Lotus World Music and Arts Festival (see: lotusfest.org).”
Click on the photos to enlarge. All photos © William Itter.
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Friday, 18 September 2015
I already mentioned the show but this important exhibition really is a unique, once in a lifetime, opportunity to view many of the earliest surviving African textiles, drawn together from numerous museum collections across Europe. A few years ago I went all the way to Ulm to see the cloth below (okay and a couple of others.) Don’t miss it !
Date: 16th–17th century, inventoried 1659
Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Angola; Republic of the Congo Culture: Kongo peoples; Kongo Kingdom Medium: Raffia Dimensions: L. 75 9/16 in. (192 cm), H. 59 7/16 in (151 cm) [excluding 5 1/2 in (14 cm) perimeter fringe ] Classification: Textiles-Woven Credit Line: Kunst- und Wunderkammer des Christoph Weickmann, Ulmer Museum, Ulm, Germany
Note that this astonishingly fine cloth above is almost two metres square – looking at the photos it is too easy to visualize it as the small Kuba squares that we are so familiar with.
Luxury Cloth: Cushion Cover
Date: 17th–18th century, inventoried 1737. Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Angola; Republic of the Congo Culture: Kongo peoples; Kongo Kingdom. Medium: Raffia Dimensions: 21 1/4 in. (54 cm) × 21 1/4 in. (54 cm)Classification: Textiles-Woven Credit Line: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Prestige Cap (Mpu)
Date: 16th–17th century, inventoried 1674 Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Angola; Republic of the Congo Culture: Kongo peoples; Kongo Kingdom Medium: Raffia or pineapple fiber Dimensions: H. 7 1/8 (18 cm), Diam. 5 7/8 in. (15 cm) Classification: Textiles-Non-Woven Credit Line: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Prestige Cap (Mpu)
Date: 17th–18th century, inventoried 1876 Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Republic of the Congo; Angola Culture: Kongo peoples Medium: Raffia or pineapple fiber Dimensions: H. 8 7/8 in. (22.5 cm), Diam. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm) Classification: Textiles-Non-Woven Credit Line: MIBACT-–Polo Museale del Lazio, Museo Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, Rome
Date: 19th century, inventoried 1853 Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Angola; Republic of the Congo Culture: Kongo peoples Medium: Raffia. Dimensions: 31 1/8 × 49 1/4 in. (79 × 125 cm) Classification: Textiles-Costumes Credit Line: British Museum, London
Tuesday, 8 September 2015
K260 - Exceptional Asante mixed strip blue and white cotton kente cloth. Composed of four repeats of six different strip patterns, this cloth is notable both for the fine quality of the weaving and for the addition of borders (a feature not usually found on Asante blue and white cloths of this type.) The interaction between the blue extra weft float motifs that make up the border and the different blue and white patterns beneath makes a subtle and interesting visual impact. In excellent complete condition. Dates from early to mid C20th. Measurement: 127 ins x 75, 323 cm x 190.
Thursday, 27 August 2015
Power and Majesty
September 18, 2015–January 3, 2016
“Central Africa's Kongo civilization is responsible for one of the world's greatest artistic traditions. This international loan exhibition will explore the region's history and culture through 134 of the most inspired creations of Kongo masters from the sixteenth through the early twentieth century.
The earliest of these creations were diplomatic missives sent by Kongo sovereigns to their European counterparts during the Age of Exploration; they took the form of delicately carved ivories and finely woven raffia cloths embellished with abstract geometric patterns. Admired as marvels of human ingenuity, such Kongo works were preserved in princely EuropeanKunstkammer, or cabinets of curiosities, alongside other precious and exotic creations from across the globe.
Kongo luxury arts from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century—many of which have never been exhibited before—will give an unprecedented historical backdrop to the outstanding work produced by master sculptors active in the same region during the nineteenth century. The array of figurative representations they produced range from miniature ivory finials for the staffs of office of Kongo leaders to the carved-wood commemorative shrine figures positioned above their burial sites.
The presentation will culminate with a gathering of fifteen monumental Mangaaka power figures produced in the Chiloango River region during the second half of the nineteenth century; these will include the celebrated example acquired by the Met in 2008, the original catalyst for the exhibition. For the first time, this electrifying form of expression will be understood as a defensive measure conceived by Kongo leaders to deflect Western incursions into this region of Central Africa.
With works drawn from sixty institutional and private lenders across Europe and the United States, Kongo: Power and Majesty will relate the objects on view to specific historical developments and will challenge misconceptions of Africa's relationship with the West. In doing so, it will offer a radical, new understanding of Kongo art over the last five hundred years.”
This important exhibition will bring together an unprecedented number of the earliest surviving Central African textiles, dating from the 16th to 18th centuries, from European collections, including the pieces from Ulm Museum, Germany and the the Kungliga Samlingarna, Sweden, shown below.
Luxury Cloth. Kongo peoples; Kongo Kingdom, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, or Angola, 16th–17th century, inventoried 1659. Raffia, H. 755⁄8 in. (192 cm), W. 591⁄2 in. (151 cm), L. of fringe 51⁄2 in. (14 cm). Kunst- und Wunderkammer des Christoph Weickmann, Ulmer Museum, Ulm, Germany (AV D. 48)
Luxury Cloth: Cushion Cover. Kongo peoples; Kongo Kingdom, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, or Angola, 16th–17th century, inventoried 1670. Raffia, 191⁄4 × 197⁄8 in. (49 × 50.5 cm). Kungliga Samlingarna, Sweden (HGK, Tx I, 164)