Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

Ghana cloth #1

Living Cloth

As a Ghanaian, “cloth” – which is what we call it – has saturated my life from my earliest days. It swaddled me as I slept; was used to tie me to people’s backs as they travelled and worked and was worn for everyday and special occasions.

Cloth is worn by both men and women and is mostly a wax-printed fabric: making it hardy, long-wearing and easy to maintain. I still have a piece that my mother gave me when I was 15. The cloth itself is over 30 years old.

Ghana cloth #2        Ghana cloth #3

 

 
Kente, the national cloth, is an Asante (pronounced “Ashanti”) ceremonial cloth made from four inch hand-woven strips which are then sewn together into larger pieces of cloth. It is a royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance, with each cloth and each pattern having a name and a meaning. Each colour also has a symbolic meaning:

  • black — maturation, intensified spiritual energy
  • blue — peacefulness, harmony and love
  • green — vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
  • gold — royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
  • grey — healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
  • maroon — the colour of mother earth; associated with healing
  • pink — associated with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
  • purple — associatef with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
  • red — political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death
  • silver —serenity, purity, joy; associated with the moon
  • white — purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
  • yellow — preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility

 

Ghana cloth #4     Ghana cloth #5     Ghana cloth #6

 

 
Cloth is bought in lengths of 6 yards. For the women, we use 2 yards for the top and 2 yards for the “slit” (skirt). The remaining 2 yards is used for a head wrap or alternatively draped around the shoulders or tied around the waist (called the “modesty”).
 

Ghana cloth #7     Ghana cloth #8     Ghana cloth #9

Every African woman knows a good seamstress (both male and female) that they go to to get their cloth made up. And lately, my sister has been trying out her dressmaking skills and has made a number of dresses based on Western designs.
 

Ghana cloth #10     Ghana cloth #11

 

 
One of the best things about cloth is its flexibility. The top below has been created by taking a 2 yard piece, wrapping it around the body and tying it off behind the neck and back. No sewing, completed in less than a minute and you’re good to go!
 
Ghana cloth #12

 
Cloth is saturated with colour and pattern, but also history, memories, stories and joy.
 
Ghana cloth #13
 
A very big “Thank You” to my mum and my sister who agreed to model for me for this post.
 
You can see how other bloggers responded to the challenge at The Daily Post

A number of my images are now available to buy in a variety of print sizes, cards and gifts. To look through the available galleries, please visit: emdubbya.com.

 
 

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AUTHOR: I am might war. I have a love of music, the written word, travel, Anime, polar bears, people and “sticking and colouring”.

7 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturated

  1. Mightwar, a wonderful post, full of vivid recollections for me of time in Nigeria from 1952 to the mid 70’s. Still have Nigerian friends from the early days. I’m not sure how much I would recognise these days but the vibrancy of Kente Cloth would be an enduring delight.
    Thanks for the post..

    1. Dear 2far2shout,

      Thank you for your compliments. There have been some drastic changes in the major cities, but the villages and towns are pretty much the same. What has remained constant is the vibrant and joyous spirit of the people – you would recognise it on sight.

      Did you ever get some cloth made up for yourself? From time to time I give my non-African friends a piece as gifts; usually made up in one of their favourite items of Western clothing to show just how easy it is to wear.

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