historical textile

  • Wrapper (detail), Ghana, Ewe, 1940–50. L: 96.5 inches, W: 180.34 cm. TM 1975.17.1. Gift of Fred M. Fernald. 

This wrapper would have been worn by a chief or elite man for special occasions, festivals, and religious holidays. The cloth would be wrapped around his body, pass over the left shoulder and then brought around the body again (considered dirty and unseemly, the left shoulder and arm are usually covered). The wrapper is supposed to act as an extension of the wearer’s body, gracefully extending and contracting as he moves.

The bands are woven on long narrow strip looms, which often use a double-heddle.  This wrapper is composed of nineteen strips, each woven about 9.5 cm wide and sewn together by hand. The ground is plain weave cotton with warp stripes in white, light blue, burgundy, dark blue and green. The pattern blocks are created using continuous and discontinuous supplementary-weft float patterning.  The mottled appearance of the solid color blocks results from the grouping together of different colors of threads to make a single yarn, such as orange and yellow or yellow and green.