Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

Quilting is not widely found in Africa. However, there is a significant exception, namely the quilted armour found in parts of sub-Saharan and eastern Africa. In particular, the practice of quilted armour seems to cover an area as far west as the Djerma people of the middle Niger and as far east as Khartoum in Sudan. The armour was made for both warriors and their horses.

ULITA in Leeds (UK) houses a formal agbada robe for a Yoruba man in Nigeria (c. 1940; 129 x 257 cm). Such a garment is related to the riga robe worn by the Hausas all over West Africa. The robe is made of 48 hand woven strips of etu ('guinea fowl', for the speckled appearance) cloth, which is the very valuable, dark-indigo dyed cotton or silk of the region, and which is characterised by the insertion of white warp (or weft) threads.

The West African country of Ghana is known for the production of banners and flags decorated with appliqué. These items are often associated with the Fante people, and in particular with the Asafo, the military companies in the western coastal region of the country.

The West African country of Ghana is known for the production of banners and flags decorated with appliqué. These items are often associated with the Fante people, and in particular with the Asafo, military companies who live in the western coastal region of the country.

The British Museum, London, houses a series of design on A-4 size paper for embroidery on the front and back of a man's gown. They date to c. 2010 and were made in Kano, Nigeria.

This example of quilting is used for a ‘suit of armour’ for a horseman. The basic quilt is made from two layers of natural cotton material, with a wadding layer in between of raw cotton. The decoration consist of bands of red and dark blue cotton cloth sewn (applied) onto the cotton ground. The stitching of the quilting takes the form of horizontal rows of small running stitches worked in a thick, cotton sewing thread. It is now in the British Museum, London.

The Mahdi flag now in the British Museum, London (BM acc. no. AF1949,46.694.b) represents a particular type of flag used by the Mahdi and his followers in the late nineteenth century. The Mahdi army used two types of flags to indicate the position of their leaders.

The collection of the Textile Research Centre (TRC), Leiden, includes an embroidered man's gown from the Kano region, Nigeria, acquired in 1989. The gown measures 110 x 110 cm. It is made of hand woven cotton and decorated with hand embroidery.

Tambani is a South African self-help group that is making embroideries and appliqués based on local, Venda folklore. The Venda live in northeastern South Africa, in an arid area with little employment. The Tambani group grew out of the work of a South African academic, Ina le Rouz, who in 1989 carried out a research project about Venda folk tales at the University of Venda.

The Wodaabe are a sub-group of the Fulanis, and many of whom are nomads that live in the southern Sahara, notably in southern Niger, northern Nigeria and the western parts of the Central African Republic. The Wodaabe are well-known for their high jumping dance, carried out by the adolescent men during the Gerewol ceremonies, in order to impress potential brides.

The Wodaabe are a sub-group of the Fulanis, many of whom are nomads that live in the southern Sahara. The Wodaabe make use of various embroidered cloths and garments, especially during their annual dances. One of these garments is a rectangle made of sewn, handwoven strips of cotton in dark blue and light blue. This form is normally embroidered along one long edge and one short edge.

The Wodaabe are a sub-group of the Fulanis, who are nomads that live in the southern Sahara. They are known for the high jumping dance carried out by the adolescent men during the Gerewol ceremonies in order to impress potential brides. There are various dances (such as the fijo and the yake) held during the Gerewol and for one of them the men wear a plain leather ‘skirt’ under a long, open sided tunic.

The Wodaabe are a sub-group of the Fulanis, who are nomads that live in the southern Sahara.

The Wodaabe are a sub-group of the Fulanis, and many of whom are nomads that live in the southern Sahara. Some of the Wodaabe women wear a short, sleeveless top, especially on festive occasions such as the Gerewol dance ceremonies, when adolescent men dance in order to impress a potential bride. These tops are usually worn with a skirt of some kind.