Ankara Appreciation Week
I am so excited about this week as we take things center stage for Ankara Appreciation week. A fabric that is deeply woven into the roots of our culture deserves much appreciation.
Often when we think of African fabric our minds go directly to "Kente" which is a well known print that represents Africa. The origins of the Kente cloth go back 400 years to West Africa, in what is now modern day Ghana. While its invention is often attributed to the people of the Ashanti Tribe, the Kente cloth may have instead been invented by the people in the Ewe Tribe, who later shared the tradition with the Ashanti. The Asante, also known as Ashanti (/əˈʃɑːntiː/ ( listen)) are part of the Akan ethnic group and are native to the Ashanti Region of modern-day Ghana. Asantes are the last group to emerge out of the various Akan civilisations. Twi is spoken by over nine million Asante people as a first or second language. Tribe, there is so much more to Ghana then Kente, it may seem crazy but before it was a trend I had my attire custom made for the entire year at at time, and all of it was made with Ankara waxed print fabric but I just called it African fabric. I was always drawn to the beauty of the colors and how it made me feel when I wore it, well before I really understood it. The awakening was when I traveled to West Africa and visited Ghana, Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast, I was taken back by all of the bold striking colors the women were wearing that I now know is Ankara. Literally resting in the Ashanti region where the expression of what I love what rooted in purpose!
Ankara fabric is worn on special occasions by family members, close friends, and relatives in Nigeria, however in Ghana it is seen in everyday attire and this is what gave me the slogan "Everyday Ankara". Various patterns have different meanings and often symbolise proverbs. When I realized that each piece of Ankara fabric came with meaning, it sent me into a deeper place of appreciation and now is the love language of fashion for me. There is such a beauty in the process of making Ankara! A versatile fabric, Ankara makes a statement. Ankara print fabrics are made using a technique called Batik - an Indonesian wax-resistant dying method. In this technique, sections of cloth are prevented from being dyed using a 'wax resist' process, resulting in the unique patterns. The quality that comes with this fabric is why it is such a cultural staple in Africa as authentic wax print is colored all the way through.
I will never forget when I designed this piece to bring modern day style to deep rooted tradition and realized that Ankara should not have to only be for occasion, it should be a part of our everyday style. The rich essence of our culture should be no different that my Italian friends who live for pasta and fine wine in their everyday lives. This is for sure a "Design for The Human Experience"
As this week unfolds I will be sharing the beauty of Ankara on my IG @shaniequalwashington follow me on this journey in exploring the beauty of Ankara. Before I go let me leave you with this last must know below.
I often wondered why when I wear Ankara I have a feeling of overwhelming joy, well this is why........Ankara is known for its bright colors, the bright colours are associated with happiness, as well as riches. However, bright colours are also used to show status and importance through the use of a specific colour. For example, the traditional African cloths that were worn by chiefs were made in a bright yellow colour. So when you see me out here shining bright, it is literally is from the inside out!!!!!
Happy Ankara Appreciation Week
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I hope you enjoyed all of the beauty in this weeks blog!
I hope you will join me on IG and share with your friends and loved ones.