The rich and diverse range of silk textiles from Africa are an unexpected revelation. This book focuses on over 30 pieces from the British Museum’s spectacular collection, bringing together for the first time the highly distinctive traditions of silk weaving and embroidery from throughout the African continent. These range from textiles commissioned by royalty and high-ranking officials, such as the striking cloths of the Asante from Ghana or gowns from Ethiopia encrusted with gold, to less prestigious but no less glorious pieces, such as a multicolored Merina burial shroud from Madagascar. As a pattern source the book provides inspiration for striking color and tonal combinations as well as myriad ideas for using stripes, geometrics, and stylized figurative motifs.
In their stimulating introduction the authors discuss who made the textiles, how ideas traveled across the continent, and the significance of pattern and symbolism. In addition, all the principal techniques are explained, while brief commentaries highlight the design features.
Chris Spring and Julie Hudson have both traveled in Africa and are the joint authors of North African Textiles. They are curators in the Department of Ethnography at the British Museum.