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The Language of Fabrics - Intro Sign (2).png
9. Kuba Cloth and Accessories worn by warriors, chiefs, and members of the king's council

Photo Source: African Twilight (2018) Beckwith and Fisher

February 2024 - January 2025

Textiles have been used for centuries in many cultures worldwide as a means of communication and self-expression. African textiles are fabrics that have been made and used in diverse African cultures throughout the centuries.

Patterns, colors, motifs, and materials all add to the visual language of textiles. These elements are used to signify an individual or cultural group’s status, achievements, wealth, etc. Each motif and its meaning can vary from culture to culture adding to the rich diversity of the continent.

African textiles are made out of a wide range of materials varying from those as simple as cotton, to those as complex as mud, tree bark, or animal fibers. Textile artisans use generational skills and materials that are regionally available to create these fabrics and garments. The fabric is often then appliqued, stamped, dyed, or printed with a special pattern that elevates or emphasizes its significance.

This exhibit takes a look into the production, use, and the cultural and historical importance of the textiles on display. While this exhibit focuses on the history, traditions, and cultural context of African textiles; it is imperative to acknowledge that many of these designs have been popularized throughout the African Diaspora, and have influenced the current-day fashion industry on a global scale.

This exhibition was created by SCAD graduate, Moraa Nyaribo in partial fulfillment of the internship program at the Savannah African Art Museum under the supervision of Billie Stultz-Nyaribo. Additional research and assistance was provided by museum volunteers and staff, Elise Goosen, Dani Cuesta, Ariel Dumalagan, and Alisa Evans-Newsome.

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