TEXTILE ART: A SELECTION
ANDRES MORAGA TEXTILE ART
ANDRES MORAGA TEXTILE ART
Copyright ÂŠ 2o16 Andres Moraga Textile Art Berkeley, CA All rights reserved. No parts of this publication (text or image) may be reprinted or used in any form without credit and/or permission.
catalogue design and text: Vanessa Drake Moraga photography: Ralph Koch image processing: Gaston Moraga archival images: VDM African Image Collection
A thread of connection emerges serendipitously from this wideranging selection of textiles, which is drawn primarily from African traditions, but also includes visually resonant works of fiber art from other cultures. The variety of processes employed for making myriad types of costume and textiles for ceremonial and ritual use, as well as vehicles for artistic and cultural expression, yields a variety of aesthetics and symbolic forms. Yet mirroring the universal, cross-cultural development of textile technologies and practices, an evolution of sorts –– of material, structure and technique –– is inferred, and can traced through the works of textile art presented in this catalogue. So we begin with the most elemental and ancient of techniques (pounding bark, stringing beads, knotting and plaiting fibers) and progress through more complex methods of construction, assemblage and patterning. Numerous creative approaches to surface and structural design are represented here, from painting, stenciling, beading, embroidery, and appliqué to distinct dyeing and resist-dyeing processes and assorted weaving, supplementary loom and openwork techniques. The materials utilized are equally varied –– ficus and breadfruit bark, raffia palm and other bast fibers, cotton, wool and silk. These reflect both the natural resources available or cultivated in different regions and environments, as well as the role and influence of trade and imported goods. Many of the textiles included in this catalogue are singular examples. However, a number of pieces (such as the Mbuti painted barkcloths, the Hausa Robes of Honor and the Kuba Ceremonial Skirts), while available individually, are part of larger, comprehensive collections that are also for sale. Inquiries and requests for further information about specific textiles or these collections are invited.
catalogue of objects
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
Left: detail of cat. 28
Mbuti Painted Barkcloth, DR Congo Mbuti Painted Barkcloth, DR Congo Amazonian Painted Barkcloth Tapa, Fiji Maprik Rain Hood, Papua New Guinea Ceremonial Mat, Tanzania Bana Guili Bead Cache-sexe, Cameroon Bana Guili Bead Cache-sexe, Cameroon Ndebele Apron, South Africa Ndebele Wedding Train, South Africa Ceremonial Costume, Cameroon Fra Fra Hunter's Tunic, Ghana Mbun Wrapper, DR Congo Dida Mantle, Ivory Coast Ndop Hanging, Cameroon Kuba Ceremonial Skirt, DR Congo Kuba Ceremonial Skirt, DR Congo Kuba Dance Overskirt, DR Congo Kuba Dance Overskirt, DR Congo Hausa Robe of Honor, Nigeria Hausa Robe of Honor, Nigeria Hausa Shawl, Cameroon or Nigeria Yoruba Adire Cloth, Nigeria Fulani/Songhay Blanket, Niger Bend Fulani/Songhay Blanket, Niger Tuareg Wedding Blanket, Mali Berber Woman's Cover, Tunisia Kabylie Hanging, Algeria Berber Shawl, Anti Atlas, Morocco Berber Shawl, Anti Atlas. Morocco Man's Hooded Cape, Morocco Tetouan Wedding Hanging, Morocco
DR CONGO, Ituri Forest Mbuti
cat. 1 Pongo Painted Barkcloth 20th century Pounded inner bark of Ficus tree Plant-derived colorants (gardenia root mixed with charcoal), redwood (pterocarpus) 27Â˝ x 17 ins 69 x 42 cm Published 1995 in Georges Meurant and Robert Farris Thompson, Mbuti Design, Plate 38 Exhibited 1996 In An Eternity of Forest, UC Berkeley Art Museum [BAMPFA]
Published in the first major publication on Mbuti art (1995), these two paintings are remarkable for their range of color and depth of field. In the barkcloth on the left, daubs of red create an erratic field pattern that can be seen as either superimposed on, or layered behind, a transparent, crosshatched open weave. An impression of visual depth is also achieved in the composition on the right, where red and black dots delicately connect the linear structure, evoking webs, ant trails, bird or animal tracks, stars, and other organic forms inspired by the forest world.
cat. 2 Pongo Painted Barkcloth 20th century Pounded inner bark of Ficus tree Plant-derived colorants (gardenia root mixed with charcoal), redwood (pterocarpus) 29Â˝ x 19 ins 74 x 47 cm Published 1995 in Georges Meurant and Robert Farris Thompson, Mbuti Design, Plate 44 Exhibited 1996 In An Eternity of Forest, UC Berkeley Art Museum [BAMPFA]
THE AMAZON, Brazil or Peru
A "visionary" palimpsest with a dense conglomeration of geometric and curvilinear motifs that recall the entopic designs generated in the mind's eye under the influence of the ayahuasca or other Amazonian psychotropic plants.
Barkcloth Late 19th century/Early 20th century Pounded bark Painted and stamped with natural colorants 40 x 14 ins 102 x 37 cm Provenance A Dutch collection
POLYNESIA, Fiji cat. 4
Masi Bolabola Ceremonial Wrapping or Presentation Tapa Taveuni, Cakaudrove style Late 19th or very early 20th century Breadfruit barkcloth, stencil dyed and painted with clay and natural pigments 110Â˝ x 22 ins 280 x 56 cm
This rare early Oceanic tapa is outstanding not only for its pristine quality but for the refinement of its surface and design. The use of stencils to create the repeat geometric motifs afforded consummate precision and artistic control, yielding an eye-dazzling pattern progression. Fine detailing, painted free hand, blend the edges and gaps between the different sections into a seamless composition. These fine barkcloths were displayed or worn by warriors on ceremonial occasions. A very similar tapa, collected in the 1890s, is in the British Museum.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA Maprik Region
Although shown here as an extended composition, this pliable head covering was originally folded and stitched closed along one edge to form a conical hood. The soft sculptural shape is highly textured with loops and fringes and the twined or plaited surface painted with energetic waves of vibrant color converging on a flowerlike diamond medallion.
cat. 5 Womanâ€™s Ceremonial Rain Cape Circa 1930s Plaited and looped fiber painted with natural pigments 49 x 18 ins 126 x 46 cm Provenance Collected between 1930-1950. De-accessioned by the Steyler Missionary Museum, Sankt Augustin Bei Bonn, Germany Related Literature 1911 Ferdinand von Luschan, Zur Ethnographie des Kaiserin Augusta Flusse, Baessler-Archiv, Berlin
Early mats from Zanzibar, in collections located there and in the Berlin Ethnological Museum, feature complex multicolored designs, all the more impressive for their single-element plaiting techniques. Here the vibrational pattern field juxtaposes two interlacing patterns, rendered in two scales and densities, which visually evoke the underlying textile structure . Bold black and tan bands comprise a twisting, open 2-strand braid with the crosspoints accentuated by solid color blocks. These are interspersed with an intricate 3-color, 3-strand plaid that lends visual texture and a dazzling optical effect. cat. 6 Prayer Mat Circa 1900 Palm leaf Plaiting (oblique interlacing), fringes 37Â˝ x 86 ins 94 x 215 cm Provenance Collected in the field by a German missionary between 1903-1909 Related Literature 1960 Margaret Trowell, African Design, Plate XIV
CAMEROON Bana Guili Kirdi cat. 7
Dibul Kouana Woman's Cache-sexe (Waist Ornament) 20th century Cotton, glass beads, cowries 9½ x 20½ ins 24 x 51 cm cat. 8 Dibul Kouana Woman's Cache-sexe (Waist Ornament) 20th century Cotton, glass beads, cowries Openwork
The vibrant cache-sexes or beaded ornaments made by Kirdi women in the remote Mandara Mountains of northern Cameroon, and adjacent areas of eastern Nigeria, Niger and southern Chad, take the most ancient, universal form of adornment – a belt or skirt strung from the elemental combination of fiber, bead, seed and shell – and a language of simple geometric shapes into the realm of free-form improvisation. The Bana-Guili aesthetic reveals s inventiveness and sophistication in its exploration of asymmetric, unpredictable configurations and eccentric forms. Minute differentials of color and texture, such as a single dot, a short oscillating line, an erratic cluster or wedge, yield kaleidoscopic fields that shimmer with energy and dance with light and sound.
9 x 21 ins 22 x 53 cm
Young Kirdi (Lere) Women, Chad
SOUTH AFRICA Ndebele The eye-catching long back train and frontal apron with five rounded flaps (although not from a matched set) are important components of the intricate wedding ensemble of beaded costume and adornment worn by Ndebele brides. The designs share the vibrant colors and geometric pattern vocabulary of Ndebele women's renowned murals. Indeed, the architectonic character of certain motifs, which often represent houses, evokes the potent symbolic connection between women's art, domestic space and the body.
cat. 9 (right) Ijogolo Bridal Apron Circa 1950 Hide (probably goatskin), glass beads, brass 26 x 22Â˝ ins 66 x 57 cm cat. 10 (left) Nyoga (Serpent) Wedding Train 20th century Leather, glass beads 55 x 6.5 ins 149 x 16 cm
The ritual or celebration for which this extraordinary costume was fabricated is not documented in the literature, although similar net masks made from fiber are part of many masquerade costumes in the Cameroon grassfield kingdoms. Many other types of ceremonial regalia and prestige caps are commonly elaborated with applied threedimensional elements such as crocheted burls and tufts, feathers or porcupine spines. In this case, the protuberances sewn onto the outfit (possibly cocoa pods) may hold a key to its symbolism or significance. Even off the body, the costume conveys the spirit of motion, energy and vitality that characterizes what Robert Farris Thompson has called the "danced art" traditions of Africa. The lively play of textures, from the underlying openwork sheath to the cascade of fringes on the skirt and sleeves and the curious fiber pods, surely accentuated the rhythmic movement of the dancer even as his identity was concealed or transformed. cat. 11 Masquerade Costume 20th century Raffia, applied fiber-covered pods or seeds (cocoa pods?) Looping, fringes, embroidery 51 x 33 ins 132 x 82 cm
GHANA Fra Fra
cat. 12 Batakari Hunter's or Warrior's Tunic 20th century Handspun cotton strip weave with warp striping Embossed, stitched and applied leather, hide, reptilian skin, metal and wrapped pendants 37 x 47 ins 92.5 x 117.5 cm Provenance A French collection
Over sixty magical amulets are attached to the front and back of this mysterious hunter's tunic, representing an accumulation of spiritual power. The ritualistic charms are intended to safeguard and express personal prowess and invulnerability. The tradition is found across West Africa, and is related to talismanic "war" shirts laden with similar protective amulets. The garment shows evidence of many years of use and repair. The embossed leather pendants are rectangular and dimensional, encasing material such as medicinal substances or paper with Koranic inscriptions. Many are embroidered with black and tan fiber, while several are shaped, notably into small blade or gong-like forms and the two large rings displayed on either side of the garment. Other talismans (possibly stones, pods or seeds) are wrapped with multicolored threads or sheathed with animal hide and reptilian skin.
DR CONGO, Kwilu-Kwango Region Mbun
A study in contrast, with woven patterns imparting subtle texturing and figuration to the undyed golden field juxtaposed with highly graphic embroidered borders. Both the weaving and decorative embroidery were executed by men, although this prestige hip-wrapper was worn by Mbun women and the typical lozenge and/or crescent designs relate to female symbolism and scarifications. Reportedly, the elongated lozenge motif is a schematic representation of the lizard, a sacred matrilineal clan ancestor.
cat. 13 Woman's Skirt or Hip Wrapper Late 19th/early 20th century Raffia palm fiber Plain weave with float-derived patterning and embroidery 42 x 29Â˝ ins 107 x 75 cm Provenance Collected by the Belgian colonial administrator Emile Lejeune between 1905-1920 Related Literature 2015 Jo de Buck and Nathalie Depadt, La Collection Emile Lejeune. Arts Premiers. Objets du Congo Belge, 1905-1920: 34
IVORY COAST Dida
This large mantle has the characteristic crinkled surface and elasticity of the Dida non-loom woven raffia prestige panels and women's loincloths, as well as the rich earthtone colors used for their complicated multi-step tie-dye designs. Both the technique and materials are unique within the universe of West African textiles, where indigo-dyed cottons predominate. The composition is magnified in scale to fit the size of the cloth, with wavering rows of nebulous, elongated oval shapes arranged in an alternating grid or patchwork that suggests an under-over woven or basketry structure. cat. 14 Man's Prestige Mantle or Wrapper First half, 20th century Raffia fiber, natural dyes Interlacing non-loom weave with diagonal warp and wefts; shaped and tied resist-dyeing (top and bottom selvedges intact) 49 x 68 ins 125 x 173 cm Related Literature 1992 Monni Adams and T. Rose Holdcraft, “Dida Woven Raffia Cloth from Cote d’Ivoire,” African Arts, July 1992, Vol XXV, No. 3, 42-51
Bamum or Bamileke The linear, banded format of this Ndop hanging, which is composed of alternating strips of undyed and indigo-dyed cloth, draws attention to the script or calligraphic-like quality of its patterning. While the resist-dyed design cannot literally be read as a progression of graphic signs or symbols, there are many precedents for meaningful secret and sacred scripts encoding political and spiritual power in the Cameroon Grasslands and Cross-River visual traditions. Bamum ndop textiles are patterned with a diversity of geometric configurations (such as double triangles) that also have their source in schematic representations of animal and fertility symbols (motifs that have become emblems connoting royal power), as well as in diagrams of the spaces and palaces associated with royalty. The Wakari-style of patterning seen here is apparently much more freeform and improvisational â€“â€“ an outcome of the process, perhaps, compounded by the random alignment of the strip weave assemblage. But individual motifs may derive from widely recognized ideographic signs: the half quartered-circle (a cosmological symbol), the X and starlike crisscross, the interlace, and so on, all of which communicate abstract cultural ideas and metaphors.
Ndop Display Cloth or Hanging for Ceremonies and Festivals Early 20th century Cotton, indigo Strip weave, cane-stitch resist-dye 43 x 83 ins 110 x 211 cm
DR CONGO Kuba Ngongo cat. 16
Ncak Woman's Ceremonial Skirt First half 20th century Raffia palm fiber, natural dyes Appliqué, embroidery 33 x 176 ins (14½ ft) 84 x 448 cm (4.48 m) Exhibited 2013 Majestic African Textiles, Indianapolis Museum of Art
The use of color is always rare in a Kuba skirt, but the sense of space and spacing in this lyrical skirt is equally remarkable for the way the red and grey appliqué motifs are evenly dispersed on the expansive, seemingly undivided background supplied by the uniformly creamy, undyed raffia panels. Flux, motion, kinetic energy and magnetic forces are inherent to Kuba break-pattern progressions, but the visual “pacing” of the biomorphic elements arrayed here is especially measured and commodious. The animate forms are inventively cut into long, sinuous, branching or forking shapes –– no two alike. These are punctuated with scattered circles of the opposite color (grey dots among the red motifs of the large squares, red dots among the greys of the narrow border panels), which knit together the two design registers while reinforcing the overall sense of buoyancy and spaciousness.
The conceptually sophisticated stick-and-stitch resist-dye composition is an exercise in modularity, repetition and pattern reflection synthesized into a harmonious whole. The folding of each panel generates quadripartite designs that fade in hue and intensity, lending variation and color gradations to the play and repetition of diagonal and vertical lines. Amid this latticework, two brilliant configurations create focal points â€“â€“ one in the center where a large X-and-hexagon motif links the two sides of the skirt; the other in the front end panel (left side), where two pairs of concentric diamonds evoke eyes set within a striated face or mask. The beautiful tonal variegation of the earthy gray-brown ground becomes an improvisational design feature of the undecorated lower border.
Kuba Ngeende or Ngongo
Mapel Male Titleholder's Skirt First half 20th century Raffia palm fiber, plant and mud immersion dyes Stick and stitch resist 34 x 210 ins (17Â˝ ft) 85 x 525 cm (5.25 m)
DR CONGO Kuba Bushong
The inclusion of touches of blue in the rich red cut-pile embroidered center panels is a unusual feature. The color has always been prestigious among the Kuba, but is primarily associated with the ceremonial overskirts worn by Bushong royal women and female titleholders where it is usually reserved for the linear borders framing the monochromatic tan or red interiors. Here the blue notes highlight various components of the geometric pattern, indeed enhancing the legibility of the motif, while also subverting its regularity.
Ntshakakot Woman's Ceremonial or Dance Skirt 20th century Raffia palm fiber Pterocarpus redwood (tukula) and indigo dyes Cut-pile embroidery, embroidery 31 x 63 ins 72 x 177 cm
DR CONGO Kuba Bushong
Although the Kuba visual tradition is famed for its unpredictable pattern combinations and startling asymmetries, the Bushong style of embroidery prizes design regularity and superb craftsmanship. That value is epitomized by this dance or funerary overskirt, patterned entirely with flat linear embroidery and featuring a single geometric element extended into a mesmerizing overall composition.
The basic module is an interlinking Woot Matul (or "festive Woot") motif, named for the Kuba mythical ancestor. Despite being pieced from seven separately embroidered panels (probably made by several women), the stitching displays a virtuoso consistency and evenness of form, scale and line. cat. 19 Ntshakakot Woman's Ceremonial or Dance Skirt 20th century Raffia palm fiber, cotton (red tradecloth) Embroidery 28 x 69 ins 72 x 177 cm
Hausa, Nupe or Yoruba
cat. 20 Riga with Aska Takwas (Eight Knives) Design Robe for a Dignitary or Chief Early 20th century Handspun cotton, silk, indigo dye Strip weave etu cloth, embroidery, piecing 53 x 73 ins 135 x 186 cm
A monumental "robe of honor" assembled from strip weave cloth dyed with a fine light blue check pattern (etu cloth). The riga is embroidered with one of two variants of the distinctive warrior emblem associated with the rise and power of the Hausa-Fulani caliphate in the mid 19th century. This talismanic Eight Knives design (aska takwas), which frames the neck opening, is superimposed upon an exquisitely executed block of geometric patterning that incorporates cosmological symbols, magic squares, endless knots and other graphic hatumere motifs derived from Islamic design and numerical and mystical concepts. It is always offset by a spiral emanating from a quartered circle (tambari) on the opposite side, which echoes the much larger scale, freewheeling spiral typically featured on the back of these majestic garments. The entire pattern complex expressed the wearer's affiliation with Islamic tradition, empowering him and affording protection in life and warfare.
Hausa, Nupe or Yoruba
The restrained tone-on-tone color scheme of this elegant riga is characteristic of Sanyan cloth, reserved for one of the three most prestigious kinds of robes made for the Hausa, Fulani and Yoruba elite. The special strip weave fabric was woven from handspun wild native silk or cotton (or a blend of the two fibers). The juxtaposition of narrow white vertical striping and broad horizontal stripes creates a shifting background for the delicately delineated and widely spaced latticework, looping knots and "five houses" variants of the magic square. The contrast between the transparency of these motifs, executed with eyelet embroidery, and the solidity of the Eight Knives emblem applied around the neck, or of the trefoil Gabiya motif anchoring the patternblock at lower right, enhances the sense of layering and multiple planes of design.
cat. 21 Riga with Aska Takwas (Eight Knives) Design Robe for a Dignitary or Chief Early 20th century Handspun cotton, silk Strip weave cloth, embroidery, piecing 50 x 93 ins 128 x 238 cm Left: A Fokwe Chief (1940s?)
CAMEROON or NIGERIA Hausa
A weave of the inkiest midnight blue (obtained from numerous immersions in an indigo dye bath), and perforated with hundreds of pinpoints of light filtering through the slits and openings woven into the cloth, represents the epitome of subtle elegance and a tour-de-force of Hausa weaving and dyeing.
cat. 22 Woman's Shawl Early 20th century Cotton, indigo dye Openwork 52 x 69 ins 130 x 172.5 cm
A Hausa Spinner, Foumban, 1925
NIGERIA Yoruba cat. 23
Adire Eleko Wrapper or Display Cloth 20th century Cotton plain weave with supplementary weft Sstarch-resist stencil dye with indigo 74 x 70 ins 185 x 175 cm
This commemorative adire cloth was apparently made to celebrate the coronation of a man named Omoniyi, whom the text proclaims was crowned king in 1962. This personage was probably an oba, one of hundreds of Yoruba traditional rulers who continued to exert spiritual, economic and political authority among the rural populations of Nigeria even after independence of the country in 1960. The use of lettering and script in place of the abstract and representational patterns traditionally seen in indigo-dyed adire cloth is extremely unusual. The blocks of text, applied with stencils, are arrayed in three vertical bands across each of the three panels that were sewn together to make the wrapper. Although the words are separated by clusters of dots, this simultaneous juxtaposition and disjunction creates a random word progression that draws attention to the graphic quality of the design rather than to the meaning of the phrases. This impression is only enhanced by the fact that one of the outer panels is upside down. However, as Christine Mullen Kreamer has noted, writing and script inherently convey "power, authority, status and knowledge". The grid-like arrangement, the repeated words and dates, and the prominent Os show a striking relationship to the compositions of the Italian artist, Alighiero de Boetti.
OLUWA KAJOYIN EWIBE PEIRENI TEMI KAJOLA KAJUNOWO TEMITOPE LOWO OLUWA OMONIY MOOBA 1962
GOD IS NOT LIKE YOU SAY THAT GOODNESS IS MINE TO BE WEALTHY TOGETHER, TO BE RICH TOGETHER MINE IS THANKFUL TO GOD OMONIYI BECAME KING 1962
NIGER BEND, Gourme region Fulani/Songhay
This lovely blanket, woven from a lustrous blend of wool and cotton, represents the interface between the Fulani and Songhay traditions in the area known as the Niger Bend. Unlike other regional ethnic groups, the Songhay did not produce a class of specialist weavers, procuring instead the skills of professional Fulani craftsmen known as maabuube. Additionally, the indigo yarns would have been dyed by non-Fulani women of noble Soninke descent. Narrow stripes of tan wool alternating with white cotton yield a pleasing textural effect. This is enhanced by the wonderfully tactile quality of the textile due to the use of an extremely fine soft wool that originates in the Liptako area of Burkina Faso. The randomly staggered bars of light blue, yellow, and red on the white ground are a unique feature. The unpredictable color sequence sets up the syncopated visual rhythm that is so fundamental to the African textile aesthetic. But the simplicity and minimalism of the style, based on a restricted set of primary colors and visual elements, are also reminiscent of Western works of fiber art, such as the weavings of Anni Albers and other Bauhaus artists. cat. 24 Munnyuure Blanket Early 20th century Wool, cotton Strip weave (9 strips), weft stripes, floating weft patterns Indigo and other natural dyes 52 x 92 ins 132 x 233 cm
NIGER, Gourme region Fulani/Songhay
An arkilla is prestigious tent hanging made for, and displayed during, marriage celebrations. There are several types, produced by the Fulani (Peul) for the nobility of various ethnic groups in Mali and Niger. Woven to a much shorter length than the typical arkilla, this richly colored, early blanket is a singular and undocumented variant of the style. Viewed in the same way that it would have been suspended within a tent's interior, the seamless succession of multicolored vertical stripes belies its fabrication from six separate bands of strip weave that have been perfectly matched and aligned. The chromatic harmony and interaction of the range of brown, orange, rust, and ochre dyes, the contrast between the solid stripes and ones patterned with squares and triangles, as well as the inclusion of black and white stripes to subdivide the sequence into columns of differing widths and weights that appear to advance or recede in space, cohere into a dynamic composition. cat. 25 Arkilla Wedding Blanket or Tent Hanging Early 20th century Wool, cotton Strip weave (6 strips), weft stripes and floats Natural dyes 68 x 129 ins 173 x 320 cm
A stunning arkilla tent hanging woven for the nomadic Tuareg aristocracy by Fulani master weavers. These rare textiles are recognized as masterpieces of textile art from the western Sahara region. This distinctive style of arkilla features a progression of intricate pattern groupings (five registers here), arranged symmetrically, and undulating within or in front of an optically energetic blue-and-white checkerboard field. Dynamic shifts of color, scale, interval, pattern density and complexity of design enhance the impact of this impressively large weaving. cat. 26 Arkilla Jenngo Dowry or Wedding Tent Hanging First half 20th century Handspun wool, cotton Indigo and natural dyes Strip weave,tapestry 192 x 56 ins 480 x 140 cm
Zlass (Djlass) Berber
The dramatic, intensely red ground, with its cloudlike tonal variegations of light and dark, reflects the Berber practice of dyeing textiles after they are woven. This field is framed with a rhythmical sequence of black and white diamond designs of varying scales. The motifs are contained within bars and columns of staggered widths and lengths that probe the visual space â€“â€“ left empty apart from a random scattering of small floating patterns. These graphic elements are talismanic as well as aesthetic, and relate to the protective motifs Berber women paint on their hands and faces.
Bakhnouk Woman's Covering Early 20th century Wool, cotton, natural dyes (madder?) Supplementary weft patterning 45 x 93 ins 114 x 235 cm
ALGERIA, El Feija region Kabylie
Axellal Hanging Late 19th /early 20th century Wool, natural dyes (cochineal) Tapestry, supplementary patterning 70 ins x 14 ft 1 ins 178 x 429 cm This rare Kabylie ceremonial or marriage textile exemplifies the Berber aesthetic and compositional format at its most essential, with pattern-intensive borders framing an eccentrically shaped empty center or void. Hung vertically (as in a colonial-era image seen below), the wavering, delicately fringed or toothed edges of two bands of vivid cochineal-red geometric design define a tapering column or opening, like two curtains parting to reveal a light-filled space beyond. The fundamental graphic elements (diamond, triangle, zigzag) are deployed in a variety of scales to generate kaleidoscopic pattern blocks that increasingly contract towards one end of the textile. Reminiscent of architectural decorations and tiling, the motifs and visual structure reflect the confluence of aesthetic influences in the region, from Hispano-Moresque to Islamic and North African. But they also reach back into antiquity, preserving indigenous Berber visual and symbolic ideas that find similar expression in Kabylie pottery and body painting. It is significant that all are artistic traditions devised and practiced by women.
MOROCCO, Central Anti Atlas Berber people, Ida ou Nadif group
Reflecting a process common among several Berber groups in the Central Anti Atlas, the brocaded motifs and stripes are woven of white cotton which does not absorb the deeply saturated henna dye into which the edges of the weaving were dipped. Thus the fine chain-link and horizontal lines are mainly visible at the sides, becoming a positive, more easily discerned reflection of the white-on-white patterning in the interior. Clusters of colorful tufts mark the point of transition between the side borders and center column, while the tassel fringes pick up the dramatic color shift.
Adrar Woman's Head Covering First half, 20th century Cotton, wool, henna Painted with henna, supplementary weft patterning, pompoms and tassels 26Âž x 53 ins 68 x 134 cm
MOROCCO, Central Anti Atlas
Berber people, Ida ou Nadif or Ida ou Zeddoute group
These beautiful head shawls are among the most "painterly" of the Berber textiles for the vibrant abstraction of the veil of color applied to the gauzy fabric with both resist-dyeing and painting. Although no study about the potential symbolism or associations of the design exists, the soft, dark brown Ushape suspended in white space has an archetypal quality. The translucent blaze of orange and red holding this interior darkness suggests space contained rather than a limitless void.
cat. 30 Tadghart Woman's Head Covering Early 20th century Wool Resist-dye, dip and painting with henna and other natural dyes 53 x 57 ins 132 x 43 cm
MOROCCO, Jebel Siroua
Berber people, Ait Ouazguit group
This spectacular hooded cape combines the minimalistic design aesthetic of the Berber textile tradition with the talismanic symbolism of that culture. Woven to shape with the addition of extra warps, the semi-circular garment acquires a soft sculptural form when cloaking the body. Hovering on the rich brown field, the bold orange ocular motif both echoes and inverts the overall crescent shape of the textile. The eye is embellished with a sword-shaped, tasseled band of solid red interspersed with diamantine pattern blocks and delicately edged with fine triangular symbols. cat. 31 Akhnif Man's Hooded Cape Early 20th century Wool, natural dyes Plain weave, supplementary weft, fringes 64 x 114 ins 160 x 285 cm
This panel, representing one of four lengths of this luxurious cloth, was woven for the urban market, probably by Jewish craftsmen.
A scintillating pattern of alternating blue/white "tiles" inlaid within a luminous gold trellis or grid suggests Hispano-Moresque influence. A 1901 photograph of a Tetouan wedding ceremony (1) shows identical fabric draping the ceiling of the alcove in which a bride is seated. The shimmering design emulates the beautiful polychrome tile work decorating elite Moroccan homes.
cat. 32 Fabric for a Curtain or a Wedding Alcove 19th century Silk Strip weave with double weave patterning 129 x 24 ins 61 x 328 cm
1 The photograph is published in 2002 Paydar and Grammet, The Fabric of Moroccan Life: 66.
ANDRES MORAGA TEXTILE ART