AFRICAN FABRICS 101: KENTE CLOTH

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Kente cloth was originally black and white, but dyes were developed from different plants and the range of colors evolved. For instance, blue was obtained from the indigo plant, red from dried cam wood, brown from Indian tamarind, and green from boiled spinach leaves. With increased trade, imported silks and cottons were unraveled to extend the color range.

Colors convey mood, dark shades being associated with grief and used for mourning ceremonies, while lighter shades are associated with happiness. Check out our Kente Pinterest board:

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Kente cloth was originally black and white, but dyes were developed from different plants and the range of colors evolved. For instance, blue was obtained from the indigo plant, red from dried cam wood, brown from Indian tamarind, and green from boiled spinach leaves. With increased trade, imported silks and cottons were unraveled to extend the color range.

Colors convey mood, dark shades being associated with grief and used for mourning ceremonies, while lighter shades are associated with happiness. Check out our Kente Pinterest board:

We were very intrigued by the meanings of the colors in Kente cloth:

  • Black: maturation, intensified spiritual energy
  • Blue: peacefulness, harmony, love
  • Green: vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
  • Gold: royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
  • Grey: healing and cleansing rituals
  • Maroon: mother earth, healing
  • Pink: female essence of life, a mild, gentle aspect of red
  • Purple: feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
  • Red: political and spiritual moods, bloodshed, sacrificial rites and death
  • Silver: serenity, purity, joy,
  • White: purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
  • Yellow: preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility, beauty

Now that you know the meaning of colours of kente cloth, what colors would you pick for your custom cloth?

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