Thursday, August 4, 2011

Global Patterns: Dress and Textiles in Africa (Boston 2011)--Continued

This is my second installation about the Global Patterns: Dress and Textiles in Africa exhibit I got to view at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in July of 2011. The exhibit is available through January 8, 2012.

Adire cloths are the work of women artists in towns such as Abeokuta and Ibadan. Women produce, merchandise, and ultimately wear the cloths. Adire translates as “resist,” a reference to the dyeing technique. The women create patterns on plain white cotton by tying or tightly stitching it, or by hand-painting parts of the cloth with cassava paste, so that the fabric will “resist” the dye. In one technique, men cut the patterns into thin metal stencils and apply the cassava paste, before women dye the cloths in large vats of natural or, more recently, synthetic indigo.
This is a shot of the full piece. (The color in the full shot is closer to what it really looked like than the color in the close up.) You can't tell in this picture that the center is made up of tiny intersecting lines. This design is made by stitching on the cloth before the dyeing is done. It is beautiful; the camera just doesn't do it justice. The indigo color is scrumptious! In the picture below, you see a close up picture of the middle and one side of the piece. You can see the tiny lines making up the center of the cloth and the tiny circles in the border. After having tried shibori for one of our techniques for the "And Then We Set It On Fire" blog, I have a whole new appreciation for fabrics such as this.
I would think the piece below would have had to use the stencils mentioned in the opening paragraph. This is a full shot of the piece. You can see a close up below that. (The color in the full shot is more true than the close up.)
This man’s hat (laket lishaash ingyeeng) is from the 20th century and is made of raffia which has been coiled and embroidered with raffia pile. “In the past, all adult Kuba men wore small conical coiled hats with four projections or “ears.” This hat is a variation of the type, for a second cap with moto sits on top of the lower one. Rows of embroidered pile embellish the dome and the “ears.” Among the Bushoong, the leading group in the Kuba kingdom, this hat was the emblem of two important titleholders in a village, the mbeem and mbyeeng. Kuba men still wear these caps, a symbol of Kuba identity for rituals such as funerals.”
This woman’s headdress (mpaan) is from the 20th century and is made of wool, burlap, raffia, glass beads, and cowrie shells. “During ceremonies, senior Kuba women wear headdresses decorated with cowrie shells and beadwork. The valuable materials and distinctive shapes indicate that the wearer has achieved wealth, a high rank, and a titled position in the multiethnic Kuba kingdom. In the 1920s and 1930s, such hats garnered attention in Paris, where the avant garde was fascinated by black culture, including African and African American art, music, dance, and design."
"The embroidered pile cloths of the Kuba peoples of the Congo probably influenced the designer of this ribbon. Kuba textiles were brought back to Europe by Belgian colonials and found their way into the marketplace and private collections. The ribbon is a literal interpretation of Kuba cloth, in its pattern and technique. Here, the pile is machine woven only into specific sections of the cloth, mimicking the more flexible technique of embroidery used by Kuba artists." I just loved the flow of this design.
This beaded figure is made of glass beads, cloth, and string. It was made in the early 20th century. “Artists in the Ekiti area of northern Yorubaland created colorful figures to be displayed in palaces and presented as gifts to foreign visitors by Yoruba rulers. This work evokes the dress and compartment of a “woman of honor,” who carries a child on her back. She wears a blouse and a skirt, both indicated by dark blue rings. Her cock’s-comb hairstyle resembles the coiffures of elegant Yoruba women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries." I have a true appreciation for all things beaded. I once made a small beaded Halloween bracelet from a kit. It took me a really LONG time and wasn't all that much fun to do. I can't imagine beading a piece of art like this.
This man’s kente cloth is from the 20th century. “The man who made this masterful wrapper wove squares and rectangles of similar sizes in each strip. When the bands were stitched together, they created a blue and white grid. The elegant red and white designs along the wrapper’s sides results from the addition of supplementary wefts (horizontal yarns) to create further patterns and introduce color.”
This is another piece of kente cloth. I couldn’t photograph the information about this one because of the glare from the display case.
All quoted material came from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Global Patterns: Dress and Textiles in Africa exhibit.

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