Hammock (with pompoms) made of plain, naturally dyed cotton yarns, woven on a man's tripod loom in strips of cloth which were then sewn together.
- Made in: Sierra Leone
- (Africa,Sierra Leone)
- Length: 213 centimetres
- Width: 125 centimetres
The Mende weavers devised this type of woven hammock, mboma, to carry chiefs and dignitaries in the interior of Sierrra Leone where there was no access by river and horses could not be used because of the fatal bite of the tsetse fly. The flaps of the hammock were elaborately decorated, acting as a visible indication of the chief's high social status. In the 1930s British officials had hammocks made for their own use. After the Second World War (1939-45) motor transport increased and the hammock gained increased significance as a ceremonial fabric at funerals, as a wall-hanging, or to cover a platform, although its use as a means of transport declined.
Specialist Mende weavers produce this distinctive cloth, known as kpoikpoi, and sometimes referred to as 'country cloths' (as they are produced up-country). Complex patterns are achieved using the tapestry weave technique, where a pattern of a different colour is woven backwards and forwards within its own area of the design.
V. and A. Lamb, Sierra Leone weaving (Hertingfordbury, Roxford Books, 1984)Picton & Mack 1989:
'Cotton hammock, Mende or Sherbo, Sierra Leone.'Country cloth is a thick, heavy, cloth, traditionally made from locally grown cotton that is spun into thread, dyed, and woven into strips on a tripod loom. The strips are then sewn together edge to edge to form the finished cloth. Such cloth was, in the past, regarded as a sign or wealth and prestige. This is an example of a 'kpokpoi', or 'kpokpo', cloth hammock, used for carrying chiefs. Hammocks, like this one, would usually be accompanied by a canopy borne on the heads of the carriers that shielded the chief from the sun. This is a particularly fine example.
On display: G25/dc10
Africa, Oceania & the Americas
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Object reference number: EAF3547
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