Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Man's Prestige Cloth

Ewe peoples
Cotton and silk
H. 73 x W. 120 in. (185.4 x 304.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Mariana and Ray Herrmann Gift, 2010
Accession Number:
Not on view
With its radiant colors and dynamic composition in cotton and silk, this kente cloth relates to one of West Africa’s major traditions of visual expression. In the Ewe and Akan communities of southwestern Ghana and western Togo, such costly prestige cloths are worn at festivals, religious celebrations, and events marking important transition in an individual’s life. The cloth is draped majestically around the body with one loose end brought up and over the left shoulder.
For the creation of kente cloth, the long, narrow woven fabric is cut at fixed intervals to produce twenty-four strips, sewn together selvage to selvage. This example, created by an Ewe master weaver, exhibits evenness and regularity in the strips’ width, as well as in the transition between the warp and weft-face blocs. A lively array of motifs, including animals (fish, elephants), inanimate objects (stool, camera) and anthropomorphic elements (interlocking-hands) further add to the liveliness of the cloth. This especially complex creation is impressive for its variety of compositional elements, as well as both their delicacy and level of details.
[Collected in the Volta region of Ghana, by a dealer, Kumasi, Ghana, 2006]; [Duncan Clarke, London, 2006–2010]

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