By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Ghana; Asante peoples

Kente cloth (Mmeeda, "something that has not happened before")

Cloth (strip weave)

L. 234.95 cm (92 1/2")

Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.434

The cloth’s intricate patterns, which appear in seemingly infinite variety, are created through the use of a complex weaving technique by which the weaver manipulates several sets of threads on his loom instead of the usual two sets. Asante weavers first acquired brightly colored threads by unraveling European and Indian cotton and silk cloths that had been acquired through trade and reweaving the threads to create their own textiles. Later, when they had direct access to imported threads, Asante weavers began to make extensive use of brightly colored rayon, a less expensive silk substitute.