WorkingsRaw Materials: Protein fibresRaw Materials: Cellulosic fibresRaw Materials: Synthetic fibresMaking textiles without threads: felt and bark clothMaking Thread: combing, carding and spinningAdding ColourMaking textiles without looms: braiding, knitting, knottingLaceMaking textiles with loomsTextiles to clothe the worldPutting the pieces together: piecing and quiltingEmbroiderySurface PrintingResist Patterning: batik, plangi, ikatMaking Baskets

Wrapper (adinkra)

There are two primary ways to create textile images: i) a design or pattern can be created structurally by, for instance, weaving or knitting it with different colours, stitches or weaves; or ii) designs or patterns can be applied to the surface of a textile that is already made. A single design or image can be painted freehand onto cloth (what we usually call a painting), but textiles most often contain some kind of repeat pattern.

Where was this textile created?

World map preview image

Surface Printing

Wrapper (adinkra)
Africa: West Africa, Ghana
20th century
Cotton, stamped with pigment
368 cm x 81 cm
Gift of Barbara Barde
T04.34.17 Textile Museum of Canada

Block-printed red adinkra cloths are traditionally associated with mourning. Adinkra means “saying goodbye to each other” in the Asante language. To create the pattern, a skilled textile printer uses a stamp carved from a calabash gourd and prints with tree bark pigment on the surface of cotton cloth. The pattern motifs have specific meanings. For instance, the motif with four curlicues means “ram’s horn” and is a symbol of strength.

Why do we create so many patterns? Perhaps because the natural world is full of fascinating and lively patterns – many visible to the naked eye, others microscopic. Human beings are attuned to patterns because we live in a world that is teeming with them. Our own bodies are structured according to patterns and symmetries.

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