Thursday, 28 January 2016

Mossi Indigo Shawls

Rare variant style of vintage Mossi indigo shawls from Burkina Faso with 10 inch long braided fringes and tie dye patterning. There is a deluge of mostly very mediocre indigo dyed cloths coming out of Burkina at the moment but careful searching can uncover some gems amongst them. Message me for sizes and prices.






Thursday, 14 January 2016

New book: “Indigo Quilts–30 Quilts from the Poos Collection” by Kay and Lori Lee Triplett


I usually steer clear of commenting on books about African-American quilting and apparent affinities with aspects of African textiles as it is a controversial topic that, to be honest, doesn’t directly impact on my own interest in understanding more about the history of West African textiles themselves.  However this welcome book by quilt and textile collectors Kay and Lori Lee Triplett breaks new ground by looking instead to the indigo fabric used in making the quilts and a detailed, archive research based, exploration of the role of African-American slaves and ex-slaves in the early production of indigo resist dyed cloth in the Americas. This is preceded by a stimulating overview of the history of indigo dyeing within West Africa, and illustrated with both West African textiles and a selection of remarkable antique indigo and white quilts from their collection.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Wodaabe Men’s Festival Attire, Niger.


Photo taken from the book “Nomads who cultivate beauty” by Mette Bovin (Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2001) in my view the most interesting of many books on the Wodaabe nomads of Niger. Bovon notes that this picture was taken in 1975 by a local photographer Yacoubou in Diffa. She noted – ‘Young men nowadays laugh when they see this photo, and comment “How old-fashioned they look, the mirrors are too big and hanging too low. Our fashion today is much smarter, more chic. But look, all three men’s faces are pretty.”’


AGB110 - Fine example of a open-sided hand embroidered tunic of a type worn by young men of the nomadic Wodaabe people of Niger for certain important ceremonial occasions. The embroidery patterns are named after aspects of nomadic lifestyle such as the layout of the camp site, and are executed on a backing cloth of very narrow (1cm) width strip woven cloth, the most expensive and prestigious fabric available. It was woven by Hausa weavers in the vicinity of Kano in northern Nigeria for sale to the nomadic peoples of the Sahel and Sahara to the north.


The tunics were worn over a skirt fashioned from a wrapped goat skin and were adorned with hanging jewellery and other finery in an effort to draw the eye as the man danced in a row among the other young men of his clan. See the photgraph at the foot of this page taken from the book “Nomads who cultivate beauty” by Mette Bovin (Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 2001). A notable feature of this example is the asymmetric layout of the embroidery on the reverse of the robe. Wodaabe tunic of this quality are now becoming rather hard to source and increasingly rare. Condition: excellent. Age: circa mid C20th. Measures: 67 inches x 18 (+ arms), 170cm x 46. PRICE: US$2175.


Friday, 8 January 2016

Ewe Kente in Hali Magazine #186

186Cover ed.indd

Issue #186, out now and available from Hali, includes my article on Ewe kente and a review by John Picton of my book on the Karun Thakar collection of African Textiles. Cloth shown is a rare variant from the vicinity of the town of Kpalime in Togo. Also includes my review of the Kongo exhibition at the Met.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Today at the shop….


At the shop: fine mid century Ewe kente woman's cloth from Ghana. Visit us online at or at Alfies Antique Market in London.