Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Cloth of the month: A rare double-sided Ewe kente.


E806 – Rare style of Ewe chief’s cloth with predominantly yellow front face and purple on the reverse. The weaver of this beautiful cloth utilised a rare technique that produces a different effect on each side - on the front yellow predominates while on the back the dominant colour is a soft purple. This is achieved by using a method called supplementary floating warp (as opposed to supplementary floating weft which is widely used by Ewe weavers.) If we look at the detail photos below we can see that the yellow extra warps are mainly visible on the front of the cloth, while the purple ground weave predominates on the reverse, allowing the weft striped blocks to stand out more visibly.  These extra warps are continuous along the entre length of the cloth strip but in the weft faced areas, where stripes go across the strip, they are concealed by the closely packed wefts.

Front detail.


Back detail


The layout is a regular alternation of squares of the warp faced float and weft faced stripes arranged in squares, while the colours in the weft stripes pick up the yellow and purple in a great variety of combinations with other colours. Dates from circa 1920-40 and is in excellent condition is excellent. Size: 128 ins x 70, 326cm x 178.

This technique, supplementary floating warp, is extremely rare in West African weaving, with the Ewe the main practitioners. Most Ewe examples I have seen have used an orange extra warp on a green background. This is the only one I know about in these more appealing colours.

To see this cloth and others on our newly updated gallery of Ewe kente cloths for sale please click here.

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