By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)
Kente cloth is among the best known types of African textiles, admired by Europeans since their encounters with the Asante kingdom in the early 18th century. Woven in long, thin strips by male Asante weavers, the cloth is associated with high status and is worn by members of royal families, including the chief in the accompanying photograph, by powerful officials, and by the wealthy. In the past, Asante rulers reserved particular, often very intricate, kente patterns for their own use; other patterns were reserved for the use of their court, and still others for use as gifts to important allies and foreign dignitaries.