Glencoe World Geography

Chapter 21: The Cultural Geography of Africa South of the Sahara

"Kente Cloth"

Traditional African arts and crafts have influenced art throughout the world. Contemporary African textiles, such as Kente cloth, and African motifs often show up on city streets in North America. West Africans use small strip looms to weave narrow strips of fabric which they sew together to make large pieces of cloth. In this activity you will learn more about the weavers, the cloth, and the traditional patterns. You will also be able to study many photographs that will help you learn about West African textiles.

Destination Title: West African Kente Cloth

Start at the African Crafts Online Web site.
  • Click on "Articles" in the menu. Browse through the articles, beginning with the slide show "West African Strip-Cloth Weaving." You may skip the article on Malinke motifs. Read all remaining articles, including the children's book.
  • Return to the main screen, and then click on "Craftspeople." Click on "Gilbert 'Bobbo' Ahiagble, Ewe Kente Weaver, Ghana." Read about Mr. Ahiagble.
  • Click on "Portfolio" and "Photos" in the menu at the left of the page and browse the pages.

Using the information you gathered while browsing the site, answer the following questions.

How does Ashanti folk hero Anansi figure in the history of strip-weaving? Who normally uses strip weaving looms in West Africa?
List products made by strip weavers. Why do people often prefer these products to goods made using imported cloth?
What do the butterfly and the parrot symbolize when they are used in Kente cloth?
How has Gilbert "Bobbo" Ahiagble spread knowledge about Kente cloth outside Ghana?
A master weaver from Ghana will visit your community in several weeks. He will visit schools and speak to local groups, demonstrating the weaving of Kente cloth using a strip loom. Write an article on Kente cloth and strip weaving for your local newspaper's Sunday magazine. Your article should answer the following questions: What is Kente cloth? What is strip weaving? Where is it done? Who does the weaving? How do the weavers make the cloth? Why do people still make cloth this way? Your article should contain at least five paragraphs and may include graphics or photographs.
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