Thursday, 15 August 2013

Revisiting some exceptional Bondoukou textiles from Ivory Coast.


Agnibilécro - Kangah, Chef Agnis. Postcard photographed by G. Kante, circa 1920. The seated ruler wears a Bondoukou style cloth. Author's collection.

This post features an important and very rare group of cloths from the north eastern part of Cote D'Ivoire, around the town of Bondoukou. Stylistically and historically related to the well known Ewe and Asante cloths of Ghana these distinctive early C20th cloths are previously undocumented and not represented in museum collections (except a few we have sourced in recent years.) They represented an important stylistic and historical link between the textiles of Mali and Ivory Coast and those of Ghana. The area we found these cloths is sparsely populated and it would appear that most existing examples have now been collected. For more information please see my article on Bondoukou cloths from Hali magazine, 2008, now online here.


fr473 - One of a very small number of museum quality Bondoukou men's cloths that we have collected over recent years, this subtle and beautiful piece uses complex blocks of coloured weft threads muted by the predominant indigo warp as the sole decorative effect. Although this is a very old decorative technique found in some of the earliest Ghanaian textiles the sophisticated effect achieved here by varying the colours and the placement of blocks is to my knowledge unique. More details here.


fr479 - This rare men's hand spun cotton wrapper cloth illustrates a style of weaving in the Bondoukou area with simple, almost rustic, geometric weft float motifs bordered by weft faced blocks in bold simple colours. Very few complete man's cloths with this degree of pattern have been collected and this example is in great condition, with a single small patch on a worn edge. Dates from about 1950. More details here.


fr474 - Superb men's hand spun indigo-dyed cotton ground wrapper cloth collected in a village in the vicinity of Bondoukou in northeast Côte D'Ivoire. One of the finest of the small number of top cloths from this area we collected in 2006 and 2007 when these textiles first began to become available. This exceptional piece was published full page in Hali #157, Autumn 2008. Regular lines of colour across the cloth are created by weft faced bands on alternate strips that are joined by narrower pairs of weft stripes on the other strips. At the centre the design is expanded into a row of complete pattern blocks in which weft faced bands frame supplementary weft float motifs. These motifs, which differ in form from Ghanaian styles, include two animals. The layout of pattern in bands across the field of the cloth separated by undecorated areas is a design that would not occur on Ewe or Asante weaving. More details here.


fr502 - Superb early example of man's wrapper cloth from the Bondoukou region. Illustrates two of the distinctive aspects of pattern layout within this tradition that differ from those of the Asante and Ewe in Ghana, namely a focus on the centre of the fabric and an alignment of patterns in rows down the cloth (rather than the chequerboard type layout typical in Ghana.) This exceptionally fine piece appears to be among the earliest we have seen from the Bondoukou area. Woven with a hand spun indigo dyed cotton background with very subtle balance of warp and weft stripes. More details here.

Click on the photos to enlarge. For more of our collection please visit our gallery online here.

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