Friday, 15 November 2013

Some early images of Sierra Leone “country cloth” weavers, circa 1900.


I recently bought the card above, a rare image published circa 1900, that I had not seen before (click the photos to enlarge.) It prompted me to review the other views of Sierra Leone weavers that I have gathered over the years. Most show the distinctive “tripod loom” used by Mende, Vai, Sherbro and other groups and found only in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Others show odd variations on the standard West African narrow strip loom.


On this card, written in 1902 at Fourah Bay College, the sender notes that he saw one of the weavers and bought a 60 yard strip of cloth from him.





above - Photographer & publisher: Alphonse Lisk-Carew




above – Photographer: W.S. Johnson.


above - Photographer & publisher: Alphonse Lisk-Carew




  1. These images trigger my childhood memories, helping my paternal grandfather to move the tripod as he moves along the thread. I did not appreciate the experience (then) but now. How I wish to have learned the art of weaving the "country cloth." to celebrate my passage to adulthood, I was giving one made by our grandfather. Little did I know the reasons behind the gesture of passing on the values of our tradition. We need to continue the custom or else, future generations will miss the richness of our cultural traditions; and the spirits of our ancestors will not forgive us for the omission.

  2. You are right I can remember helping my maternal grandfather "Pa –Aiah M'boma" in Njaiama Sewafe, may his soul rest in perfect peace. As I speak I still have remains of what my grandmother gave me as my Christmas gift in 1997. I missed my grand parents may their soul rest in perfect peace. Amen. I will continue to use country cloth as my traditional legacy as a Kono Man.
    Sahr Mark Koadinjay Menjor

  3. You are lucky to have one directly rather than buying it; take good care of it because the value and worth will never be the same.