After a special request by Bernhard Gardi for some wool cloths on the blog after he complained “always kente kente kente”, today we look at a notably fine wool and cotton wedding hanging from Mali, of the type called arkilla kerka.
In his catalogue Woven Beauty: The Art of West African Textiles (Basel, 2009 – incidentally the best book published on African Textiles) Gardi notes:
“The kerka is the ‘mother of all arkilla.’ They are no longer produced today. A kerka consists of six patterned strips, occasionally a seventh strip, striped black and white and called sigaretti (from the French ‘cigarette’), is added and used for hanging up the blanket. The white sections and the warp are made of cotton, the rest is wool. Black is never applied, only dark indigo blue. A kerka blanket of the highest quality requires between 25,000 and 30,000 metres of hand-spun yarn.”
This example was collected in Bamako by an English family in the 1950s and is now in the Musée di Quai Branly, Paris. It is an old well used piece with exceptionally fine weaving. Gardi commented “There are very nice noppi nawliraaBe motives, 'ears of the co-wive'. Looks very much as woven from a weaver who was equally weaving arkilla jenngo blankets. That means, that kerka does not come from the Guimballa area (East of Lake Debo) but from Niafunke or further North-West.”
Click on the photos to enlarge.