Why do you think people associate the Ankara Fabric to the African Culture? We are about to find out ourselves. Finally we have decided to see what the whole ‘craze’ about this fabric is, and why Africans can’t seem to get enough of it. Could it be that, it was made by the Africans and for Africans, well guess what? It wasn’t.
Ankara as it’s popularly called was first made by the Dutch during the colonization of Indonesia in the 1800’s with the goal of flooding markets with cheap machine-made imitation of Batik, which was then called Dutch fabric. The fabric Dutch Wax now known as Ankara started out as a mass produced imitation of Indonesian batik in Holland by the Dutch textile manufacturers. In case your still wondering, “So how does this associate with the African Culture?” Keep calm and let us take you on a facts filled roller coaster.
In the 19th century, during the mass production of this fabric by the Dutch, which was made using engraving roller print machine and dye resistance, resin to design the motifs. The Dutch textile manufacturers encountered some DIFFICULTIES.
The process caused cracking effect and series of small lines with Dote through which the new dye used seeped into the colors around it. Due to that, the fabric was REJECTED by the intending Indonesian market as they considered it not good enough compared to the Indonesian batik, unfortunately for the Dutch this imitation wax did not successfully penetrate the Batik market.
However, this ‘spoiled’ fabric was brought to the Gold Coast by the Dutch merchants, the fabric was strongly accepted and it did so well it spread to other parts of Africa especially West Africa. This fabric has been accepted by Africans due to its affordability and texture which is suitable for African climate.
The Dutch manufacturers decided to make the designs on the fabric suit the African culture by telling African stories on the print, the first ones to be made were plant and animal motifs which was believed to cut across all culture and tradition. Thereafter portraits of local community leaders, politicians and chiefs were used as motifs in 1920 and 1950.
Do you remember how your mum felt proud of her hollandaise and Hi-Target? that was the highest grade of the Ankara and is still is, although Ankara has now become one of the cheapest fabrics to purchase due to the mass production by the Chinese and other countries. Good quality Ankara wax still exists, brands like Da-viva, Vlisco, Excellence, ABC English Wax are in the business of producing high grade fabrics.
In conclusion African print has come to replace dutch wax, some fashion brands like Jewel by Lisa and Dent de Man have also identified their brand aesthetic with the Ankara fabric. Last, it would interest you to know that the name Ankara originated from a girl named Ankara and was given to the cheaper version of the Dutch Wax.