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Culture and clothing – Africa ⋆ Pressto | Malaysia's Premier Laundry & Dry Clean Service

With their bright colours and unique patterns, clothing from the African continent are easily recognisable by many. The patterns and style of clothing differs greatly from region to region, bringing about a comfortable, casual style that is quickly catching on around the world. Hold tight to your chairs, because we are about to introduce to you a world of African cultural clothing that is sure to blow your mind!

 

1. Kanga


This is a colourful garment that is similar to the kitenge, and typically worn by women residing in Eastern Africa. Put simply, it is a piece of printed cotton fabric, filled with various patterns and colours that go from the very dark, to the very bright and colourful. They are relatively comfortable to wear, as they are merely wrapped around the waist as an accompaniment to the other clothing the bearer wears.

Kangas have existed since the 19th century, and were originally printed and made in India, the Far East and Europe. However, since the mid-20th century, they began more production in African countries such as Tanzania, Kenya and many more.

 

 

2. Thawb


A piece of traditional Sudanese clothing, the thawb is a long, wrap around cloth worn on top of a shirt, and shorts or skirts. Usually worn by women, they can be made from cotton, satin, polyester, jersey, denim and many more. Style-wise, they can be highly fashionable as they are known to be designed very intricately and beautifully.

While white thawbs are usually favoured by older women, youths tend to opt for more colourful ones, alongside accessories. They are extremely important in Sudanese culture, as the style and quality of one’s thawb shows their status and social class.

 

 

 

3. Kente


Native to Ghana, this is a cotton and silk fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the ethnic Akan group of South Ghana. Also known as nwentom, it is also worn by many other groups who have been influenced by the Akan ethnic group. In the past, this cloth was only reserved for an Akan royal, and was considered sacred cloth only to be worn in times of great importance by an Akan king.

However, over time, the use of kente became more widespread, though the importance is still highly regarded by the Akan people.

A kente is characterised by weft designs woven into every available block of plain weave, also known as the adweneasa. The Akan people typically choose their kente clothes based on their names and favourite colours and patterns, before the cloth is named accordingly.

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