African Wax Prints: A Deep Dive Into Symbolism

African Wax Prints: A Deep Dive Into Symbolism

African wax print” describes cotton fabrics that are printed using the industrial wax-resist method. These bold and often brightly-colored textiles feature a range of traditional and contemporary African motifs. The fabrics have an interesting and complex cultural history, and as a result you might hear them being called African Wax Print, Dutch Wax Print, or Ankara Hollandaise.

The Power of a Fly Swatter

Unassuming at first glance, the swatter pattern resonates with the power and prestige of the Akan people from Ivory Coast and Ghana. These fly swatters, seemingly ordinary, were used by kings and traditional chiefs to shoo away pesky mosquitoes and flies. A symbol of authority, the swatter embodies the historical and economic significance of these revered figures.

Fly swatter african wax print fabric


High Life: Living in Elegance

The high life motif brings a touch of elegance to the fabric. Depicting a bow tie, this pattern embodies the concept of "living the high life." Just like the accessory often worn with formal attire, the high life pattern represents a sense of luxury and sophistication.

high life

Snail: From Indonesia to Africa

The snail pattern takes us on a journey from Indonesia to Africa. Originally depicting the wings of Indonesia's national emblem, the Garuda bird, this design has found new meaning on African soil. Ghanaians perceive it as a bunch of bananas, reflecting the importance of this fruit in their diet. For Togans, it resembles a snail emerging from its shell, symbolising a focus on personal matters rather than prying into others' affairs.

Snail african wax print

The Stool

The stool motif carries a message of communication. It's an invitation to sit down and engage in meaningful conversation: "take a stool and sit down.” African proverbs are laden with humorous sayings that also have deep meanings. If you want to talk about someone, don’t just stand around talking. It’s better for you to sit down, take your time, and say what you have to say.

the stool african wax printStool african wax print

The Tortoise

A closer look at the tortoise pattern reveals its resemblance to the back of a tortoise's shell. It's a tribute to longevity and resilience. The tortoise, despite its slow pace, embodies wisdom and enduring strength. This pattern draws from the Indonesian Mask of Malangan, an art piece honoring ancestors' spirits with deep symbolic value.

Tortoise african wax print fabric

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