E815 – Beautiful and rather mysterious indigo and white men’s cloth with elaborate borders. Despite its visual similarity to several cloths that we have collected from the Bondoukou region of Ivory Coast this cloth has an unusually specific provenance in the Volta Region of Ghana and on closer examination does differ in subtle ways from its Ivoirian cousins. It was collected from a chief in the small town of Ada Foah on the Volta river estuary that is inhabited predominantly by people of the Adangme ethnic group. The Adangme or Dangme people, although said to be historically more culturally related to the Ga of the Accra region (indeed some sources refer to both groups as Ga-Adangme) live interspersed with the Ewe in the Volta region of Eastern Ghana, and according to Malika Kramer’s PhD thesis on Ewe waving many of the most active weavers in some parts of the region are in fact of Dangme origin although now Ewe speakers. Clearly this raises more questions than answers in terms of placing this cloth in a wider context. Turning to the cloth itself we can note that the white cotton is hand spun but the blue is machine spun though indigo dyed – so here we have a difference from the Ivorian pieces that are all hand spun. Moreover the stripe pattern lacks the white lines at each selvage that are typical in Ivory Coast. Is this piece a relic of a distinct Dangme tradition since overshadowed by the preeminence of a twentieth century Ewe style, how does it relate to the blue and white strip weaves of the Notse Ewe in Togo, and is the visual similarity with the Bondoukou cloths a coincidence ? At this point the answers to these questions remain unclear. In excellent complete condition. Dates from circa 1900-50s.
Measurement: 125 inches x 73 ins, 318cm x 185cm
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