Destination Africa

  • Cote d'Ivoire: Let's talk about fabrics
  • Camille Babin

Cote d'Ivoire: Let's talk about fabrics

 Côte d'Ivoire is a landmark country when it comes to African fabrics. The loincloth, with its bright colors is displayed everywhere in the 31 regions. Although everyone seems to wear the same prints today, fabrics reflect very distinct tribes or ethnic groups. The most dominant are:

 1.Kente (Kita)

 The design of kente cloth features many geometric patterns, and each pattern has a specific meaning, relating to the history or beliefs of the Akan people originally from Ghana. Before becoming a master weaver, a person must learn the meanings of all of the patterns and how to create them.

At first kente was intended to be worn solely by kings and chiefs. They would often wear the bright cloth to festivals. Now kente is worn by almost everybody.

2.Ikat Baule 

In Baule country, the loincloth assumes a mystical significance. The weavers of the villages in the center of the country hold the secret of manufacture. The yarn is woven in narrow strips, the strips thus obtained are assembled to form a loin cloth.


 Tapa is a traditional fabric of the western regions in Cote d’Ivoire. It’s a fabric obtained from a fiber located between the bark and the trunk of the tree of the same name. The material is beaten until a homogeneous paste is obtained, then widened into a fabric. Due to its rustic texture, the tapa is well suited for interior design projects. However, unique and original garments are made for traditional weddings.

  4.Traditional Senufo fabric

 The traditional Senufo loincloths are decorated with numerous mythological or totemic animals such as the crocodile, the snake, the tortoise, the chameleon according to geometric patterns. These designs of sacred animals "had the power to protect and provide a good hunting for the hunters who wore this tunic." They are painted black directly on the unbleached cotton fabric using a wooden knife slightly curved and cut at the end. These spun cotton fabrics, thick and irregular sewn in patchwork are still in the north of the country the basis of the costumes of peasants, hunters and dancers.




  • Camille Babin

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