August 20, 2005

Cloth

Because I like shopping and I've been in serious shopping withdrawal mode, I buy the only things there are to buy here: furniture, and tons and tons of cloth. Below is a sample of the many loud prints I found appealing. I cant' wait to go to a tailor and make myself some Pagnes (Congolese equivalent to Boubous).

My favorite ladies selling the clothes set up their wooden displays in an alcove by the side of the road, constantly bothers by visiting policemen (who impose bogus "fines" and make money off the business too). They charge a set price of 10 dollars for 6 yards of fabric. There's no bargaining and it's an absolutely wonderful experience... If you don't mind the sun, the dust and the ladies trying to draw your attention to their "unique" cloth (that happen to look exactly the same as the previous stall's).

In order to verify that this is good cloth, one has to watch out for the bottom tag marked "Guaranteed Veritable Wax-Top Final" or any derivative thereof. If you were to make a long skirt, you would make sure that the tag is visible at the bottom center of the dress so people would know you're wearing the real thing! Most dresses look weird to me, as have an unfinished quality to them with their unhemmed bottoms.

The image below contains fabric that I bought from Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Congo (but made in Côte d'Ivoire or European countries). Little known fact: most African cloth is actually fabricated in Scandinavian countries with designs created by African stylists. So the cloth I bought on the market is most probably made in Europe rather than in Africa. European cloth with African appeal.

I'm thinking about having an American grandmother make me a funky African quilt with the remaining fabric. Can anyone sew?

******

Thanks for posting on my Guest Map Eva Roca and San Marino or Bust!



12 comments:

Red Handed Jill said...

very cool! i think my favorite one is the bottom right, the red and yellow one.

well i would make you a quilt 007 but i can't sew :P

Beaver said...

This is a great post ! I just remembered the pagnes of Burkina... Sarah's African students used to say that Pagne was christian, and boubou was for the muslims.

Is this what the congolese say as well ?

Ammo said...

Wow, I can't believe they're made in Scandinavia, that must be super expensive!!! Asia I'd be readier to believe :)

Congogirl said...

Hey, go see my cloth collage, I gave you props for your super smooth professional image, but mine are finally up :)

Black River Eagle said...

I know that a number of West Africans buy their cloth here in Germany or over in the Netherlands, but I'm not certain about the Country of Manufacture for the material.

European wholesalers were the Africans source for cloth for decades, but that business (to Africans) is now controlled by South Asians here (India, Pakistan, and Asian-African immigrants).

I hear that the cotton from Mali is magnificent for producing specific traditional African textile designs, but that the art of creating their famous handmade and hand-dyed cloth is being lost and of course Mali has little in the way of infrastructure to mass produce bolts of cloth like Asia does. It's a real pity.

If you are serious about having someone do a nice quilt made out of the African Wax cloth, get in touch with Beth Cassidy over in Washington State. She's one of the best quilt designers in the States. Better yet, steal Beth's techniques and have one of the local women make you an original Congo designer quilt. It would be worth a fortune if it is made well.

L said...

If that comment about sewing was directed at me, you will have to get in line. I am in the middle of a pregnancy epidemic here in NC, and thus knee deep in baby gift sewing projects...

Anonymous said...

jokers if ur serious about making french fries get in touch with vusa in congo

ronald said...

I read your article with interest.
According to the Congolese, the most prestigious pagne is the Vlisco 'Guaranteed Real Dutch Super Wax from Holland. There are indeed a lot of -illegal- copies and you need to have a close look at the selfedge.
You will find Vlisco on the different market places. For people living outside Africa:

http://www.vlisco.com/e-shop

RGDS, Ronald

Anonymous said...

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Brand: Royal Crown Brand by Holland Technique
Construction: 24*24,70*60 46"/47",
Grade: A Grade
Packing: In Pieces of 12 Yards, 600 Yards per Bale.
Very Beautiful Design
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indigo dyed prints
Commodity: 100% Cotton Real Wax Prints, Real Wax Fabric, African Real Wax Fabric, Super Wax Block prints, Dyed & printed Fabric.
Brand: Royal Crown Brand by Holland Technique
Construction: 24*24,70*60 46"/47",
Grade: A Grade
Packing: In Pieces of 12 Yards, 600 Yards per Bale.
Very Beautiful Design
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ronald said...

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Attention: this site offers 100% original Vlisco Guaranteed Real Dutch Wax Prints printed in Holland.

Anonymous said...

my sister spent 4 years in Senegal and just married a Senegalise man! Was able to go over for the wedding. Yep - the fabrics are fun to shop for!! I am a quilter and had the opportunity to pick up enought fabrics to make my sister a true african quilt. I am now working on another one for a friend of mine!!

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