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Factory printed cloth
Date: ca. 1959
Medium: Cotton, synthetic dye
Dimensions: H x W: 120 x 93 cm (47 1/4 x 36 5/8 in.)
Credit Line: Gift of Donald A. Theuer and Lilburne Theuer Senn
Geography: Sierra Leone
Object Number: 2002-9-1
Search Terms:
Exhibited: Currents: Water in African Art

Factory print cloth may be manufactured in Europe or Asia for the African market or be made in an African factory and sold anywhere. Generally identified with bright colors and bold designs, it assumes a local name and symbolic meaning. One reason for success of factory printed cloth is the widespread practice of dressing alike for special events--weddings, funerals, anniversaries and especially for political events. Another is the quantity of cloth needed to make an outfit. Factory printed cloth is typically sold in 6 yard lots to women for a skirt and top, plus a shawl or head tie. It may be kept uncut as stored wealth. The 1920s-1930s saw the introduction of Fancy cloth, large plain blocks of color with photographic imagery. Popular during colonial times, this technique became particularly important with independence. This pattern shows the influence of old colonial engravings as well as modern technology as in hippo meets airplane.

Cut single panel of machine woven cotton cloth with roller printed dyed patterns. The cloth features an image of hippos with an airplane flying overhead in a red on white background.

Lilburn Theurer Senn, Clemson, South Carolina, acquired in Sierra Leone, 1959 to 2002

Currents: Water in African Art, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 2016-ongoing

Artful Animals, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., July 1, 2009-July 25, 2010

Festival of African American Literature and the Arts, The Brooks Center, Clemson University, South Carolina, September 17-21, 2001

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