A square panel of printed white cotton cloth with a continuous patterned border of alternate single and quadruple red-brown motifs, similar to 'clubs' on conventional playing cards, enclosing a central design in which the quadruple motif is repeated in rows, but in white against a red - brown background.
- Made in: India (?)
- (Asia,South Asia,India)
- Found/Acquired: Zanzibar
- (Africa,Tanzania,Zanzibar (state),Zanzibar (island),Zanzibar (town))
- Width: 74 centimetres
- Length: 76 centimetres
This square panel is one of six which would have been sewn together and used as a kanga on the Comoros Islands. This practice only ended within the last few decades when cloth printed in six squares became available; similar cloth is worn by women of southern Somalia. It is a practice which reflects the way in which kangas were first created by sewing together six of the printed leso 'handkerchiefs' which had been imported into East Africa by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century.
2013 14 Feb-21 April, London, BM, Social fabric: African textiles today--textiles of southern and eastern Africa
16 November 2006
Reason for treatment
Humidify to remove creases. Strengthen damaged edges.
The textile is in good condition, although it is creased overall. Also, all the edges in the maroon outer border are quite weak. 2 edges have a series of holes which appear to be where it was hung up with nails(?) or similar. A third edge has been cut and unfinished, thus heavily fraying. The fourth edge has large, square areas of loss, perhaps from a former hanging mechnism that ripped out parts of it.
Creases were relaxed using Goretex humidification. A cotton sheet was dampened with distilled water. The Goretex (polytetrafluoroethylene and polyester laminate) was placed over this and the textile was laid directly on the Goretex. The textile was covered with polythene to prevent loss of humidity. Glass or Melinex weights were used to flatten out the creases.To strengthen the weak edges of the maroon outer border, a silk crepeline underlay was applied to three sides of the textile.For the two edges that had small holes, although the damage only came 2-3 cm into the textile, the crepeline underlies the width of the outer border, to avoid causing a shadow through the open textile weave. The crepeline was turned under slightly at each hem and secured with running stitches along each edge with dyed silk monofilament thread. The nail(?) holes were further supported with couching stitches.The underlay along the edge of the textile with large square areas of loss was finished differently. A hem couldn't be turned, as it would have made a strong shadow and been visually distracting against the areas of loss. Thus the edge was secured with 10% Lascaux 498HV/360HV 2:1, and reactivated with acetone through Goretex. The crepeline was then cut to match the contour of the textile. The frayed edge of the textile was secured with blanket stitches with dyed monofilament silk.
- Used at: Comoro Islands
- (Africa,Comoro Islands)
Acquired in The House of Wonders museum, Zanzibar
Africa, Oceania & the Americas
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Object reference number: EAF64777
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