- Museum number
Cloth; wax-resist-dyed on cotton; white cloth with orange wax-print to reveal white spots except where noted below; bottom 1/3 printed with rectangles with two large blue sections with white Arabic writing inside, in middle rough triangle yellow wax-printed with blue squares, blue diamond at centre with white Arabic writing inside, orange triangles top and bottom with blue animal figures; top 2/3 printed with squares with blue with white Arabic writing inside, flower at centre with four blue and orange petals, four blue and yellow petals, four sections in diagonal corners around flower yellow with blue squares and no wax printing; rectangles and squares are bordered with alternating blue diamonds and yellow animal figures?; "GUARANTEED REAL WAX HITARGET 78704" printed on border.
- Production date
Length: 182.50 centimetres
Width: 118 centimetres
- Curator's comments
‘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.'
Twi name of pattern "OKUNPA", translated "good husband". Wives usually give this cloth to their husbands to express love and appreciation. This is an early design that has maintained its popularity. The motifs are inspired by patterns and cultural references from both north and south of the Sahara.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Fieldwork collection made jointly by staff from the University of Ghana (Department of Archaeology) and the British Museum (Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas) in 2006 as part of a collaborative research and exhibition project.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number