Alder, Peter & Barnard, Nicholas
African Majesty: The Textile Art of the Ashanti and Ewe



African Majesty: The Textile Art of the Ashanti and Ewe

Within the borders of present-day Ghana and Togo, there exists an immemorial tradition of weaving. Inspired by the demands of royalty and ceremony or of the wealthy for rich display, the weavers of the Ashanti and Ewe tribes have created cloths that combine colour and patter to fabulous effect. So important were these masterpieces of textile art – worn like the togas of ancient Rome – that at one time costly foreign silks were imported, only to be unravelled for weaving afresh.

Exuberantly West African in colour and composition, these textiles are made from narrow lengths of cotton or silk, first woven on small drag looms, then cut and sewn together – the product therefore of weaver’s artifice combined with the integrity of the craftsman at matching, or brilliantly mismatching, the patterns on strips of cloth. The impact of these bands of colour is often balanced and enhanced by the woven details of motifs. Anteaters, combs, hands, letters as well as seemingly abstract forms, provide a vocabulary of information for the owner and the onlooker, an indication of prestige or rank, or simply a reflection of the key elements of everyday life.

The textiles are depicted in over 130 glorious colour plates. The text includes a full description of the origin and technical composition of each example, a thorough historical survey and an explanation of the methods of weaving, as well as of the use of cloths.

This is a book of spectacular colour and pattern that will captivate everyone interested in textile history, in African culture, or in tribal art, and anyone who responds to craftsmanship and display of immense originality and vitality.

With 131 colour illustrations

African Majesty: The Textile Art of the Ashanti and Ewe, Peter Alder and Nicholas Barnard, Thames and Hudson, 1992

Paperback. Very good condition.