Cloth; wax-resist-dyed on cotton; black cloth with two alternating rectangles of pattern: 1) vertical orange and white stripes; 2) stamp of black comb on white background alternating with orange flower on black background.
- Made in: Legon
- (Africa,Ghana,Greater Accra Region,Legon)
- Length: 172 centimetres
- Width: 115 centimetres
‘The technique of wax-printing is inspired by the Indonesian art of batik. Both methods use was a dyed to form designs on cotton cloth. Batik was probably brought to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in the mid-1800s by soldiers serving in the Dutch Army in Java.
In 1893, an enterprising Scottish trader, Ebenezer Brown Fleming, began importing wax-printed cloth from the Netherlands to the Gold Coast. The product became very popular and spread throughout west and central Africa.
Wax prints were produced across Europe and exported to Africa, with African Customers driving the trade. Since the 1960s factories have been established in Ghana and other African countries from Senegal to the Congo. Today, all of the European factories have closed down, except Vlisco in the Netherlands. The Manchester-based factory ABC (Arthur Brunnschweiler and Company) transferred its UK production recently to a sister company in Ghana. However ABC designers in Manchester continue to create patterns for the African wax print factories and visit local markets to gain inspiration and market feedback.
Increasingly, imitation wax prints made in China are being marketed in Africa where their relatively modest cost makes them popular additions to this lively trade.’
'Wax prints are resist-dyed cloths. The design is applied on both sides of the plain cotton fabric with resin (which replaced wax), using engraved copper rollers. Once the resin is dry the cloth is crinkled forming cracks which make lines called 'crackles'. The cloths are usually dyed indigo. The resin is then removed, leaving undyed areas on a blue background. Other colours may be added using wooden stamp blocks by printing.'
Africa, Oceania & the Americas
If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Object reference number: EAF84071
British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.
The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.