Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The African Kente

When I hear the word Kente, I would usually associate it with the intricate weaving of African heritage.  True enough, kente is historically and traditionally African.  Kente is a type of fabric hand-woven on a horizontal treadle loom.  Strips are sewn together to create into relatively larger pieces of fabric.  Kente is not just a piece of fabric but an expression of African history, beliefs, literature, philosophy, and aesthetic values.

Kente is the most popular and widely celebrated cloth among African textiles.   It is derived from the word kenten meaning "basket" and is usually referred to as "woven cloth".   Originally, kente is the cloth of the kings and royals.  Eventually, it became widely circulated and can be worn in various ceremonial occasions and proceedings.  Widely known kente cloths are made by the Asante and Ewe peoples of Ghana.  Asante kente are distinguished for its vibrant and multicolored patterns, geometric designs and bold features. The origins of this type of kente can be traced back to the Asante Empire and its Royal Courts.  Ewe kentes remarkably comes in figurative themes and patterns.  Though not as highly known as the Asante kente, it is still highly regarded as an expression of African weaving artistry.  Ewe weaving is more diverse than Asante weaving.

The First Kente
 The Kente cloth originated from Bonwire and created by two ancestors of the Oyoko clan, Otaa Kraban and Kuragu Ameyaw.  The two were only playing in their farm when they were awe stricken by the weaving of a huge spider called ananse.  For a sizable length of time, and a matter of days in fact, they just observed and watched how the spiders created the webs. That's what drove them to make the cloth and weave in the very same manner that the spider did.  It was how the first kente came about and they called it the Oyokoman cloth, named after their royal clan.  It was a material made of rich colors and characteristic texture, a cloth that was a product of sheer ingenuity and creativity. 

Kente has gone a very long way from being a royal masterpiece to an international fashion favorite.  It is not only prominently used for apparels; it can also be used as accents for fans, drums, mugs, and umbrellas.  For Kente Fashion and African Fashion enthusiasts out there , follow us at http://www.afrawear.com,  http://www.twitter.com/afrawear or  http://www.facebook.com/african.clothes


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