F. W. Grafton
Costume and Textile
H x W: 177.8 × 116.2 cm (70 × 45 3/4 in.)
Gift of Leon and Nancy Weintraub
Factory printed cloths were introduced into Africa from Europe in the nineteenth century. Early fabrics were based on Indonesian batiks copied by the Dutch, thus the common use of the terms Dutch wax prints or veritable Hollandais. Today factory print cloth is manufactured in Europe or Asia for the African market or in an African factory and sold within and outside Africa. Generally identified with bright colors and bold designs, factory print textiles typically assume a local name and symbolic meaning. One reason for the success of factory printed cloth is the widespread practice of dressing alike for special events, such as weddings, funerals, anniversaries and especially for political events. Another is the quantity of cloth needed to make an outfit. Factory printed cloth is typically sold in 6 yard lots to women for a skirt and top, plus a shawl or head tie. Men may wear it as shirts, tunics or full robes and pants. It may also be kept uncut as stored wealth.
The 1920s and 1930s saw the introduction of “Fancy” cloth, i.e., large plain blocks of color with photographic imagery. Popular during colonial times, this technique became particularly important with the independence of African nations in the 1950s and 1960s, and patterns from this era remain important historical documents of an exciting dynamic time in African history. The first President of Senegal Leopold Senghor, (1960-1980) was not only a politician but a poet and intellectual and cultural force.
Fabric panel bears three ovals with likenesses of President of Senegal Leopold Senghor in blue on orange background.
Leon Weintraub, collected in Liberia, 1962-1964 to 2013