Openwork Wild Silk Yoruba


Unusual early Yoruba wild silk openwork cloth.

1 in stock


AS466 – Later cotton cloths that look superficially similar to this are quite common but this is a scarce early C20th wild silk wrapper. Natural beige wild silk, called sanyan by the Yoruba, was obtained from the nests of several species of moth, most commonly Anaphe infracta, that were gathered in the bush by nomadic Fulani cattle herders. After boiling in an alkaline ash solution the fibres could be unravelled and spun by hand to create an expensive and prestigious fibre that was woven by the Yoruba into wrapper cloths or tailored and embroidered into robes for high ranking individuals. It continued to be woven in decreasing quantities into the mid decades of the twentieth century, by which time far larger quantities of a beige cotton substitute cloth, also called sanyan were being woven. Whilst these cotton cloths are still quite easily sourced the older real silk cloths are increasingly hard to obtain. Although wild silk is non lustrous they can usually be distinguished in appearance and texture from the cotton versions. This is a notably fine openwork decorated silk woman’s wrapper cloth in excellent condition, complete and intact with original hand sewing. Dates from circa 1900-20s.

Measurements: 74 ins x 58, 189 cm x 147cm.

All items on this site are vintage. That means that they may have a few small marks or blemishes consistent with use. We will try to highlight any significant issues in the description above but in the event you are not happy with your purchase please notify us within 48 hours of receipt and you may return it for a full refund (excluding return shipping costs.)