Continuing our exploration of some recent additions to our Ewe Kente gallery today’s post looks at a dramatic style of weft faced Ewe cloth in which solid blocks of colour are arranged in patterns across the fabric.
Ewe649 - Fine Ewe chief's cotton cloth in the weft faced, so-called "checkerboard" style, with subtle variation in the shades of green and pale greenish brown used with the bolder red, blue, and yellow blocks. It is rare to find cloths of this style that are, as this one is, complete and intact with no patches or repairs. Condition is excellent, age circa 1910-30s. Measurements: 130ins x 70, 330cm x 178.
Click on photos to enlarge…
The Ewe name for these heavyweight weft faced cloths is titriku which just means “thick cloth.” It is possible that they are primarily the work of weavers in the more northerly and easterly, and perhaps peripheral regions of what is now regarded as the Ewe regions of Ghana and Togo, although much further research is needed. The late C19th Basel Mission photograph below (reproduced in Lamb West African Weaving 1975), which shows the man at the left wearing a similar cloth, is one of several that confirm that this style was produced in area in the nineteenth century at least, if not earlier. The chief at the centre may be seen, wearing what appears to be the same cloth, in another image on our website here.
In photographs they can sometimes be confused with superficially similar block patterned cloths called tapi woven in Mali, a much more recent tradition that Bernhard Gardi sees as dating only from the 1950s. However the latter have different layouts, different colour combinations, and a different weight and texture.
For this and other fine Ewe cloths please visit our Gallery here.