African Textiles: Colour and Creativity Across a Continent (2009)

By: John Gillow

The traditional, handcrafted textiles of Africa are sumptuous, intricate, and steeped in cultural significance. Region by region, African Textiles covers, as no other volume has, the handmade textiles of West, North, East, Central, and Southern Africa, outlining the range of weaving techniques, and the different types of looms, materials, and dyes that create these sumptuous works. Nor does it neglect the cultural context of African textiles, assessing the various influences of religion, culture, trade, tradition, fashion, and the changing role of women that inform their creation.

The breathtaking skill and creativity of the African peoples are presented here in radiant color—the gorgeous stripweaves of the Ashanti and the Ewe; the lace weaves of the Yoruba and the bogolanfini mud cloths from Mali and West Africa; the Berber weaves from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia in North Africa; the unique, crocheted, embroidered, and feathered hats from Cameroon; the ancient weaving tradition of Ethiopia; the beadwork of the Zulu, Xhosa, and Ndebele peoples of Southern Africa; and the Asian-derived tradition of weaving silk and raphia in Madagascar.

A guide to African textile collections open to the public, a glossary, and suggestions for further reading make this volume a practical as well as beautiful guide to the rich art of African textiles.

More Information


London : Thames & Hudson, 2009
Format: 240 pages : chiefly color illustrations ; 31 cm
ISBN : 9780500288009  0500288003
OCLC: 286447251

Table of contents

Table of contents

9 INTRODUCTION: The Diversity of African Textiles

19 Introduction
23 Stripweaves
29 The tripod loom stripweaves of Sierra Leone and Liberia
32 Ashanti stripweaves
38 Ewe stripweaves
43 Djerma weaving of Niger and Burkina-Faso
46 Woollen stripweaves of the Niger Bend
50 Nigerian horizontal-loom weaving
54 Yoruba lace weave
56 Nigerian women’s vertical looms
61 The supplementary weft cloths of Ijebu-Ode and Akwete
62 Tie and dye
64 Nigerian tie and dye
67 Tie and dye of the Dida, Ivory Coast
68 Stitched resist
70 Yoruba stitched resist
75 Machine-stitched resist
76 Yoruba and Baule warp ikat
78 Nigerian starch-resist by hand
82 Stencilled starch-resist
84 Wax resist
87 Mali mud cloths
88 Adinkra stamped cloths of Ghana
92 Stamped, stencilled and dyed clothing from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Mali
95 Fante flags from Ghana
96 Painted calligraphy cloths and amulets
100 Embroidered robes of the Flausa and the Nupe
104 Yoruba beadwork

109 Introduction
113 Berber vertical looms
116 Ground weaves
119 Henna-dyed Anti-Atlas woollens
120 Algerian Berber weaves
124 Berber wool and cotton weaves of Tunisia
126 Horizontal loom urban weaves
130 Pit-looms of Egypt
132 Tapestry weaves of Egypt and Morocco
137 The lampas weaves of Fez and Tetouan
138 Moroccan tie and dye
139 South Tunisian tie and dye
140 Mediterranean-influenced urban embroidery
144 Ottoman-influenced urban embroidery
146 Tunisian metal-tbread embroidery
149 The embroidery of Siwa Oasis, Egypt
150 Egyptian applique
152 Assyut silvered work on net, Egypt

157 Introduction
160 The cotton shawls of Ethiopia
164 Ethiopian embroidery
168 Leather, shell and beadwork
172 Bark cloth of Uganda
175 Kangas and kikois

181 Introduction
185 Cameroon raphia weaving
186 Ndop resist-dyed cloth of grasslands
190 Kuba raphia weaving in the Congo
192 Kuba appliqued and embroidered skirts
196 Shoowa cut-pile embroidery, the Congo
198 Tied and stitched-resist textiles of
the Kuba, the Congo
202 Pygmy and Kuba bark cloth, the Congo
204 Bead and shell work of the Congo and Cameroon
207 Crocheted hats from Cameroon
208 feathered hats of Cameroon

213 Introduction
216 Zulu beadwork
221 Ndebele beadwork
222 Xhosa beadwork
224 Madagascan raphia
227 Madagascan silk

233 Glossary
235 further Reading
236 Museum Collections
238 Map
239 Index

About the author

About the author

John Gillow has spent over three decades studying, collecting, and lecturing on textiles. His other books include Textiles of the Islamic World and Indian Textiles.

Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Buggenhagen, Beth A. “African Textiles: Color and Creativity Across a Continent (Gillow).” Museum Anthropology Review 5, no. 1-2 (2011): 115-116.

Student reviews