Men’s wrapper cloth, Abron or Koulango peoples, Bondoukou region, Ivory Coast, circa 1900 (Photo from www.karuncollection.com)
The Summer 2011 issue of Hali magazine (www.hali.com) features the textile collection of the British collector and dealer Karun Thakar, who was for a number of years an active presence in Portobello Road. African textiles are only a small part of a vast collection of cloths and artefacts, many of museum quality and international significance, from many regions of the world. Karun was an enthusiastic (and still sadly missed) buyer in the textile market of Accra for a number of years, and together with his purchases in Portobello Road and other places, this enabled him to assemble a remarkable African collection including numerous early pieces.
Over the last few months Karun has been posting a selection of pieces from each area of his collection on line at a new website www.karuncollection.com . Navigation on the site is slightly eccentric but a drop down menu at the upper right gives us an option to click on West African Textiles, bringing up four pages of thumbnail images. Some of these lead to single items, others to groups of cloths (click on the “read more” tag not the enlarge button.) Among them are several notable Nigerian cloths, an exceptional group of early Ewe and Asante cloths, and some fine early painted Islamic wrappers.
Woman’s wrapper with supplementary warp float designs, central Nigeria, possibly Jukun, C19th or early C20th. An extremely rare piece is an as yet unidentified style. (Photo from www.karuncollection.com)
Men’s wrapper, silk and cotton, Asante, Ghana, C19th. (Photo from www.karuncollection.com)
Men’s wrapper, cotton, Ewe, Ghana, early C20th. (Photo from www.karuncollection.com)
Men’s wrapper, cotton, painted design of Islamic amulets, made in Ghana by Hausa Koranic scholar, probably for a Fante chief, early C20th. See Hali #168 for another exceptional cloth of this type. (Photo from www.karuncollection.com)
Cloth in unidentified style, C19th. Catalogued as Mali, but I would suggest an example of Malian influence on the periphery of Ghanaian weaving, either in Togo or perhaps in Ivory Coast. (Photo from www.karuncollection.com)