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East Africa

Sandra Klopper and Rehema Nchimbi

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa, 2010, Berg Fashion Library

Encyclopedia entry

The production of textiles in East Africa has a long and varied history. In countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, which now form part of the East African Community, cotton garments were comparatively uncommon prior to the introduction of imported cloth in the course of the nineteenth century. Although cotton weaving techniques were probably first introduced to this region by Persian invaders who settled on the East African coast in 975 c.e. to form the Zeji Empire, centered

The African Wrapper

Christopher Richards

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa, 2010, Berg Fashion Library

Encyclopedia entry

The wrapper, known by a variety of names including lappa and pagne, is one of the simplest and most visually present forms of bodily adornment found across the African continent. Although the material of a wrapper can vary from strip-woven, hand-dyed textiles to industrially printed cotton, the method for wearing a wrapper is remarkably consistent: the textile is wrapped horizontally around the wearer’s waist, and secured to the body through a process of folding or knotting that can reflect speci

Kanga

Thadeus Shio

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Africa, 2010, Berg Fashion Library

Encyclopedia entry

A popular textile development of the late nineteenth century that spread relatively quickly to the hinterland of the East African coast is the kanga (also written as khanga), known and used by people from all walks of life—rich and poor, urban and rural, Muslims and Christians, and even lawyers, engineers, and doctors. Worn by men but most often by women, it serves as both a garment and as a nonverbal, often literate, means of communication. A kanga is a rectangular piece of cotton cloth approxim

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