Arts and Culture
This paper takes as it starting-point in African printed cloth and in particular hand-woven kente textiles from Ghana in West Africa. It will not only discuss the 19th century origins of these prints when European manufacturers found cheaper ways of replicating Indonesian wax batiks, but mainly focus on the earlier transmission of technology between Europe, West Africa and to some degree South Asia as embedded in the history of kente. Some of South Asian textiles found their way to West Africa via Europe in the early modern and colonial time. I will argue that the transmission of technology happens mainly through the trade in textiles, whether in adjacent weaving areas or between different continents, than contact between weavers and those knowledgeable of the weaving process. Furthermore, it is often in the process of this kind of transmission that much innovation takes place. An African perspective opens up the possibility of new comparisons in the study of Asia in Europe, which sometimes extended further afield.