Event: Textiles that talk – East African Kangas and their meanings

Kanga by Kawira Mwirichia in support of the LGBT community. Translation: “This world is not strong enough to stand my colours”.

Event date: Saturday 8 December 2018, 11:00 to 12:00

Kangas are printed cotton fabrics worn by women in East Africa since the 18th century. Kangas are characterised by a distinctive three-element design: a decorative border; a central panel with recurring motifs; and an inscription. The designs embrace motifs from a global range of decorative traditions, with inscriptions including traditional Swahili proverbs, political slogans, and public information messages.

In this talk, John Ryle discusses kangas and the online archive Textiles That Talk: an open-access collection of high resolution images and metadata—a live catalogue raisonée of kangas. Textiles that Talk  can be explored here. It’s a fascinating archive and well worth a look at the excellent images.

Kanga by Mama Art. Translation: “Obama the choice of God”

John Ryle is Legrand Ramsey Professor of Anthropology at Bard College, New York. He is cofounder of the Rift Valley Institute, a research and public information organisation working in Eastern and Central Africa since 2001, and was Executive Director of the Institute until 2017.

Location: The Fowler Museum at UCLA, 308 Charles E Young Dr N, Los Angeles

 

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