Wrapper (kente)

Asante people, Ghana, African

20th century

Kente cloth is woven by men on narrow-band strip looms. The narrow strips are then sewn together to form large cloths. The different patterns used are significant and are often named or used only by a certain family. Kente cloth in its original form was woven for and worn by kings, queens, and chiefs of the Asante people of Ghana. It is now worn by people of high rank or status for important occasions, in addition to members of ruling families.

The earliest kente was woven of hand-spun cotton and dyed with locally made dyes (indigo, and earth-toned pigments made of minerals and plants). As Europeans arrived to the coast of Ghana in the late 15th century — first the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch and British — the Asante imported European-made silks, which they unraveled and re-wove into silk kente. Contemporary kente cloth is still woven by hand but from commercially manufactured and dyed thread. Printed kente is also produced by textile manufacturers in both Africa and the west.

  • Titles Wrapper (kente) (Descriptive)
  • Medium fabric
  • Dimensions 130 x 80 in. (330.2 x 203.2 cm)
  • Credit Line Museum purchase with funds provided by Dr. and Mrs. Harold E. Simon, by exchange, 1985.282
  • Work Type wrapper
  • Classification Costume