Ghanaian fabrics : batik, wax and kente

GHANAIAN DIFFERENT TYPES OF FABRICS: BATIK, KENTE AND WAX.

 

Ghanaian women wear typical fabrics which are beautiful to see in streets.

They are wearing well cut dresses with lively colours and complex patterns.

It is an essential part of the landscape in Accra.

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JOSEPHINE  wearing colorful dress with ghanaian fabric

Wildly patterned wax-printed batik clothes are extremely egalitarian in Accra since both street vendors and socialites wear it.

In streets, you can see gorgeous synthesis of traditional and modern fashion.

Let me show you the different fabrics which exist here in Ghana:

  • BATIK

One of the homemade fabrics is called BATIK:

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Esther is known to have the best batiks in Accra. She uses beautiful colours and patterns in her handmade batik prints.

She also propose to expat women to batik workshops with Esther at her home in Madina. Accra Accueil propose this activity with both mother and children. I did it and it takes about 3 hours to create your own batik to take it home !

As you can se below, you choose your  shapes of the different patterns you want to put on your fabric. After, the fabric is flooding to be dyed  into a barrel :

shapes for batiksbatik colourbatik homemade accra

At the end, you just have to wait that it is dried to take it home!

It is such a typical activity to discover !

  • WAX

In the late XIX , Wax was copied by english and dutch settlers in Indonesia from Java Island wax. They learned and reproduced  wax process and changed with vibrant colours. Then  it is said that ghanian soldiers working in Indonesia brought wax back to Ghana.

“African wax prints” are omnipresent and common materials for clothing in Africa and Ghana since 70’s. In Togo, this business done by women in the 70’s called “Nanas Benz” (because they had Mercedes Benz car), was very successful  .

They are industrially produced with  colorful cotton cloths with batik printing. Unfortunately, more and more chinese fabrics kills the original and local african market…

Normally, the fabrics are sold in 12 yards as “full piece” or 6 yards as “half piece”. The colors comply with the local preferences of the costumers. Mainly clothing for celebrations is made out of these.

Here is a shop selling wax, in a market such as Makola in Accra :

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  • KENTE

Kente is one of the most typical symbol . It is an Asante ceremonial cloth, representing numerous aspects of Ghanaian ethical, philosophical, social and religious heritage through variations in colour and pattern.

Although machine made kente is now widely available, it is still reserved for formal occasions. The dramatic colour and texture in kente is echoed in wax-printed fabric. Kente are sold in malls and in markets.

I also discovered the procesing steps with Accra Accueil activity :

First , they have to prepare the fabric thread :

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Then, they have to woven the fabrics all handmade:

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How Ghanaian women get dressed is essential for funerals, weddings and engagements which all require specific dresses.

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Thomas whith its typical ghanaian costume (for “friday wear”)

Most women employ a seamstress and choose a style from a ‘calendar,’ a poster showing photographs of models in outfits. These designs are usually variations of the kaba (blouse) and slit (long skirt), a common ensemble.

Yvonne koné

There is no lake of design in Accra. More and more people design exciting wax print garments.

At the moment, western silhouettes in traditional fabrics are very much in vogue.

Europeans expat are more an more wearing also these beaytiful fabrics and they make different as a  pure, shoes, and even earings!

Sewing is a lucrative business so you’ll find a seamstress operating an old-fashioned foot-operated Singer sewing machine in any busy area.

Here is one I saw in Madina market :

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Seamstresses tend to be very talented and they can interpret a western design or copy an existing dress. If the customer provides her own cloth, her dress usually costs between  8 GHC (2€) and 10GHC.

For expatriates, the prices are not the same but still very cheap .

First you have to buy the fabric (wax)  you love :

  • Woodin shop in Accra Mall is my best place because it guarantee a great value for money (100GHC -23 €-for 6 yards).
  • Vlisco is also another dutch company (created in 1846) but with higher prices (60 € for 6 yards).

Both patterns and prints  inherit from the African culture. Loincloth wax is also a means of communication to show political or social value.

Know that if you see one day the fabric you like, you should buy it right now because next time it will be finish ! Collections are renew very often!

Afterwards, ou have to find your seamstress to create for exemple 6 pillows for 10 GHC each (2,5€) , a dress for 40 GHC (10€), a short shirt sleeves for 30 GHC.

It was fantastic and well done !   Here is one of my skirt below :

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Hope you will enjoy coming to Accra and buy some fabrics from GHANA MARKETS !

 

10 thoughts on “Ghanaian fabrics : batik, wax and kente

  1. please can i get a direct contact .am from nigeria i want to learn how to do this batik also buy the material from you .forme to be selling .thank you.08034204298

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  2. How do I get to view more fabric picture and to get their prices? I am in Namibia, how long will it take for me to get the materials?

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  3. Thank you all for your nice comments, and I apologyse for my response’ delay …
    I’ll finish WRITING a post TOMORROW explaining WAX, ect…with even MORE pictures about sewing inside ghanaian markets…
    IF you can NOT wait until tomorrow ;););)
    ==> You can already go on a website “CREABYLOVA” from an expat friend living in ACCRA : SHE SEW HERSELG with WAX and SELL it in FRANCE ALSO !!
    https://www.alittlemarket.com/boutique/creabylova-2296295.html
    It will take 2 or 3 weeks to send it from GHANA to France)
    SEE YOU ON TOMORROW then ;););) !!!!

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  4. Wonderful to know how fabrics are made in Africa. Are they selling it in the rest of the world? I have never seen “kente” in stores.

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