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The History And Significance Of Textiles In The African Diaspora

Throughout Africa and the African diaspora, different types of textiles and fabrics have held resonance and social significance amongst communities. This has empowered weavers and cloth makers and enabled people to gain status and wealth. Textiles and fabrics have been used as dowry payments, markers of social and political history and familial legacy heirlooms. Throughout history cloth has had an increasing socio-economic and socio-political value that only increases with further understanding and appreciation.

However, cloth can also have a spiritual connotation; any fabric worn close to the skin is said to trap or catch the spirit or essence of the person and there have been a few studies written on the memory retention in clothing and how wearing another person’s clothes can make someone feel. There are also different types of textiles and fabrics that hold particular meanings amongst large groups of people, and I want to talk about just three of them. Often these fabrics are important to not just one community or one nation but a region or several regions that hold the fabric in high esteem.