Textile, 'Kente', silk, Ashanti Tribe, Ghana, early 20th century
This silk 'kente' cloth was manufactured on a man's double-heddle loom, which produced narrow strips of weave, which were then sewn together to make larger pieces of cloth. This cloth consists of brightly coloured stripes, with supplementary weft patterning.
This kente cloth, as with kente cloths more generally, is characterised by its bright colours and complex design. Good quality Ashanti kente cloths such as this, i.e. not kente copies from elsewhere in West Africa, are aesthetically significant due to their characteristically bright colours and bold designs. This kente cloth is aesthetically significant due to its beauty, its design and its use of colour, which contribute to the overall attractiveness of the cloth. This cloth is also in excellent condition, adding to its significance.
Kente cloths, such as this, are still very popular today, as seen through the huge number of kente style copies produced for the tourist market. While once reserved for royalty, kente cloths today are more widely available, with many consisting of inferior yarns. Thus, good quality kente cloths such as this are more significant, due to their use of good quality materials and the obvious skill required manufacturing the cloth. This cloth is made of silk, thus making it a very high quality example of 'kente' cloth, which implies that it was worn by Ashanti royalt or aristocracy.
This silk 'kente' cloth was produced on a man's double-heddle portable loom (or horizontal frame treadle loom). This loom produces what is known as narrow-band weaving (or narrow-strip weaving). This cloth was fashioned by sewing the narrow strips of woven cloth together to make one large cloth.
Kente cloths such as this are distinguished from other male weaves by their use of bright colours and complex patterns. The golden colours woven into this cloth represents wealth and joy.
Kente cloths such as this are still very popular today, and are sold in huge quantities on the tourist market. Most kente cloths today, however, are not made to such a high standard of quality (i.e. they are now normally made entirely from rayon). This particular kente cloth, however, does demonstrate a very high degree of quality and skill.
This silk 'kente' cloth was produced by a male weaver in Ashanti (or Asante), Ghana, on a man's double-heddle loom (or horizontal frame treadle loom), during the early twentieth century. It was created by sewing the small strips of weaving together to form one large cloth. West African strip weaving, as demonstrated in this cloth, is distinguished by the narrowness of the cloths. This cloth would have been worn as a toga style garment. Today in Ghana, Kente cloths are considered to be their national costume.
The word 'kente' is derived from the Fanti word 'Kenten', which means 'basket'. Traditionally, kente cloths were reserved for royalty. This cloth is made from silk, which is used on the highest quality 'kente' cloths (unlike most cloths which are made from rayon). The fact that this 'kente' cloth is made from silk implies that it would have been worn by Ashanti royaly, or the upper class.