Beautiful Antique African Ewe Kente Cloth Textile, Country of Origin: Africa, Circa Date: 1900 – This gorgeous, colorful antique African Ewe Kente cloth from around 1900 reflects tribal traditions and the skill of West African weavers. Kente cloth is made of brightly colored narrow bands that are woven and stitched together. It is attributed to the Akan people of West Africa, especially the Asante Kingdom.
Typically, the men are responsible for weaving the strips. The purpose of the textile is to drape around the shoulders and waist as a garment. Women wear shorter lengths of the cloth as a skirt and bodice. The garment itself is also called a Kente. African stories say that the original cloth was obtained from a spider web. This type of strip weaving is known to have existed in West Africa since the 11th century.
The weaving of the cloth is highly significant and surrounded by many cultural beliefs. For instance, no work is to be started or completed on a Friday. Also, mistakes require the weaver to offer prayers to the loom. The colors in the Kente cloth also have a significant meaning. For instance, green means growth, yellow is for royalty, blue is love, orange is joy, and red represents the blood of the ancestors. This piece has the colors associated with one of high status in the tribe.
The cloth has evolved over the years due to the influences of trade. The original Kente cloth was white cotton with blue indigo dye. Later, silk began to be used when Portuguese traders arrived on the scene. The patterns became more sophisticated as dyed, skein silk became more readily available. Silk was expensive, so these garments were reserved for tribal royalty.
This is a gorgeous piece of West African history and a piece that will be treasured by collectors, or perhaps those with ancestry connected to the region. Kente cloth is handmade on primitive looms of many sizes and shapes. The most important feature of this cloth is its significance and its place in the cultural heritage of the people. If your home or office features African interior decor, this piece will make a beautiful and meaningful addition.