Friday, 27 February 2015

A Beautiful Selection At Adire African Textiles

At Alfies we have a large and varied selection of wonderful antiques, collectables and vintage textiles. We are proud to be the home to dealer Duncan Clarke's gallery, Adire African Textiles on our first floor, which has an exquisite selection of vintage hand woven African textiles reflecting the textile traditions of sub-Saharan Africa.  

Vintage African Textiles

There are a large variety of different styles and techniques used to produce African textiles. From the traditional indigo dyed vintage cotton fabrics, made in various parts of West Africa, to beautiful brightly coloured Ewe kente cloths, to rarer and more obscure styles such as the embroidered Akunitan cloths, meaning 'cloth of the great', and worn only by senior chiefs and kings. 

A selection of vintage African textiles

Adire translates as tie and dye and is the name given to indigo dyed cloth produced by Yoruba women of south western Nigeria, who use a variety of resist dye techniques to produce locally woven hand spun cotton cloths, much like those that are still produced in Mali today.

Indigo was the foundation of many textile traditions throughout West Africa. Long before the introduction of synthetic dyes, the art to transform everyday white cotton into beautiful deep blue cloths was a mysterious and highly valuable skill which was passed on by specialist dyers from generation to generation. 

Adire hand woven cloth from south western Nigeria. Circa 1960
Ewe kente cloths are greatly valued by collectors of African textiles due to the advanced skill used to make them and the variety of styles they display.

Selection of beautiful hand woven vintage cloths

Ewe Kente cloth with figurative motifs framed by pairs of weft faced blocks. Circa 1930s to 1940s

Akunitan cloths worn only by senior chiefs and kings display spectacular designs and creativity. They include intricate motifs depicting proverbs and royal imagery such as this superb Akunitan cloth below which is embroidered with a peacock, tortoise, fish, chameleon, lion, elephant, porcupine, crocodile, and an umbrella with guns. All are motifs representing proverbs and ideas about Asante power and chiefly regalia.

Circa 1960.

Adinkra cloths from Ghana are unique fabrics, hand printed with black dye patterns using stamps made from calabash.

Large man's adinkra with stamped motifs on a white background. Circa 1960s.

Vintage West African cloth strips.

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NW8 8DT London 
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