EWE, CLOTH NO. 1, 40"x83", $400, SOLD, Ghana
Photographs © Tim Hamill
Living in southeastern Ghana and the western border area of Togo, Ewe weavers are renowned for the high quality od their cotton, strip-woven wrappers. Not confined by the court-regulated designs for Kente cloth of their eastern neighbors, the Asante, the Ewe men have traditionally been free to express their skill and creativity to please individual clients as well as a market which extends throughout West Africa.
Individuals of means commission cloths called adanudo ("skilled/wise cloths") studded with symbolic figural motifs of people, plants, animals and objects. These enhance the colorful weft blocks and geometric designs and are associated with proverbs and meanings of the Ewe culture. Many motifs, as would be expected from the clientele which orders them, are symbols of status and prestige.
The aesthetically pleasing overall balance of the wrapper, enlivened by these syncopated visual beats in the design, creates an artistic tour de force. The cloths are meant to be worn by their owners, adding yet another dimension to these examples of "African art in motion." Small size cloths, such as this example, about 4 x 6 feet, are worn sarong style by women; large cloths, about 7 x 11 feet, are worn toga style by men.
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