A landmark volume on one of the world’s major art forms, and an important influence on contemporary fashion

The African continent is home to numerous outstanding textile traditions, many dating to antiquity and all playing a multifaceted role in their respective societies: these eye-catching fabrics proclaim wealth and status, convey symbolic meanings, and of course serve a practical function in garments both ordinary and exceptional. This magnificent book conveys the amazing diversity of African textiles, from the geometric-patterned kente cloths of Ghana, to the multicolor raffia skirts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the beaded barkcloths once reserved for Ugandan royalty.

The authors, all leading experts in the field, examine each region of sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar in turn, elucidating the aesthetic qualities, cultural significance, and production methods of the most important textile traditions. Their authoritative text is illustrated with over 300 superlative textiles from public and private collections, many reproduced as full-page plates that allow the reader to appreciate each individual fiber.

This impressive clothbound volume will be a key reference for students and scholars, an essential sourcebook for designers, and a delight for all art lovers.




West Africa, by Duncan Clarke

I. Mali

II. Senegal / Cape Verde / Guinea Bissau

III. Sierra Leone / Liberia

IV.  Ivory Coast

V. Ghana

VI. Benin

VII. Nigeria

Central Africa, By Vanessa Drake Moraga

VIII. Cameroon

IX. Congo

East Africa, By Sarah Fee

X. Continental Eastern Africa

XI. Madagascar


MabatNgoup Ly Dumas (Foreword by) textile collector and multitalented artist, is one of the queen mothers of Western Cameroon. To highlight African textile creativity and to bring recognition to their intrinsic value, she developed her fashion brand Ly Dumas (1990–2003) and organized events such as Les magiciens du fil for UNESCO (1999) and Ly Dumas and Friends, a fashion show during the Boubou c’est chicexhibition in 2002 at Musée National des Arts Africains et Océaniens in Paris. During the same year, in Bangoulap, Cameroon, she established the Fondation Jean-Félicien Gacha, an NGO dedicated to supporting education, handicrafts, social initiatives, the environment, and solidarity tourism. She has authored Perles couleurs d’Afrique (ed. Gourcuff Granedigo) and Ndop: Etoffes des cours royales et sociétés secretes du Cameroun.
Sarah Fee is a curator of global fashion and textiles at Royal Ontario Museum, and has authored many articles on Malagasy textiles.
Vanessa Drake Moraga is an independent scholar, textile dealer, and author of Weaving Abstraction: Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa.
Duncan Clarke is a textile dealer and has written numerous books and articles on African textiles, most recently African Textiles: The Karun Thakar Collection.