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More about wax


Many people have come across what is being referred to as "Ankara Design".

In recent times, they are now called Wax or Ankara but the fabric was found to have originated in Indonesia. 


The Batik technique used an etching tool referred to as canting, which contains a small amount of hot, liquid wax that is used to create complex Ankara designs on the cloth.


According to the United Nations (UN), the Batik is recognised as a preserved intangible cultural heritage of humanity. This means that it doesn't matter if the fabrics originated in Indonesia or Africa; they represent a period of rich history.

How did Indonesian Batik end up in Africa?

Between 1810 and 1862, West African soldiers who were part of the Dutch East Indies went to Asia to battle came back with these beautiful Indonesian fabrics and gifted them to their wives. These simple gifts became a long-standing tradition in the continent.


Also, during this period, the Dutch and English utilised newer technology to mass-produce these Ankara fabrics in Europe. They automated the dying process. This is the origin of the term known as "Dutch Wax" or "Wax Hollandais". After this, the prints were known to predominantly come from Holland. These impressive textiles were transported back to Indonesia.


On their way, they had to stop by the beautiful land of Africa to refuel their ships, get more supplies, and sold their fabrics to West African communities. After some time, the Dutch found out that their famous fabrics were becoming quite popular in sub-Saharan Africa, even more than in Indonesia. Due to this, the manufacturers began to adopt their textiles to suit the African market.


How Ankara fabrics were made
African through storytelling?


Fabric prints are designed with unique symbols that hint at a deeper story. 

During ancient times, it was the job of the shopkeeper to weave a background story to sell their prints and resonate in the minds of buyers. The background story had to comply with the customer's beliefs, traditions, and desires. Today, the customers give the prints their own meaning.

These fabrics may come from a variety of origins including Javanese, Indian, Chinese, Arab, and European traditions.

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