Converging Trades and New Technologies: The Emergence of Kanga Textiles on the Swahili Coast in the Late Nineteenth Century

  • MacKenzie Moon Ryan
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies book series (IOWS)

Abstract

Kanga, a factory-woven cloth printed with colourful designs, emerged from a complex history of global trade networks responding to local east African consumer demands in the late nineteenth century. This chapter presents the first art historical analysis of the cloth genre, drawing on a wide variety of European texts, local accounts, photographs and surviving objects. It demonstrates that kanga grew out of earlier demands for unbleached and indigo-dyed cottons from the United States and India, the impact of newly invented synthetic dyes, advances in printing technologies, and the design influence of square printed handkerchiefs. The kanga emerged by 1886, drawing on both global textile production revolutions and enduring east African aesthetic preferences for printed cloths with crisp, bold and symmetrical designs within a bordered composition.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • MacKenzie Moon Ryan
    • 1
  1. 1.Art HistoryRollins CollegeWinter ParkUSA

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