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Object Timeline

1901

  • Work on this object began.

1969

  • We acquired this object.

  • Work on this object ended.

2013

2015

2019

  • You found it!

Kente Prestige Cloth (Ghana), early to mid-20th century

This is a Kente prestige cloth. It is dated early to mid-20th century and we acquired it in 1969. Its medium is viscose rayon and its technique is hand-loomed plain weave with discontintuous supplementary weft patterning. It is a part of the Textiles department.

The Asante strip-woven cloths commonly known as kente are among the most iconic and prestigious African textiles. The Asante have a powerful ruling court, and a large community of artisans work in the village of Bonwire in the service of the royals to produce the stunning visual displays expected for court occasions.
The complex interplay of designs is the result of alternating three different patterning systems: a balanced-weave check, weft-faced stripes, and supplementary weft zigzags. Because the cloth is woven in a single continuous strip, which is then cut into identical lengths, a checkerboard design like this one requires the weaver to carefully measure each pattern block while weaving to ensure that they align correctly when sewn together. The pattern is called susudua, for the measuring stick he uses.[1]




[1] Malika Kraamer, “Ghanaian Interweaving in the Nineteenth Century: A New Perspective on Ewe and Asante Textile History,” African Arts 39, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 51.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled Juneteenth (Emancipation Day).

This object was donated by Mrs. Calvin W. Stillman. It is credited Gift of Mrs Calvin W. Stillman.

Our curators have highlighted 7 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Robe, ca. 1900
  • silk, cotton.
  • Museum purchase through gift of Paul F. Walter and from General Acquisitions....
  • 2015-17-1

Its dimensions are

H x W: 328.9 x 217.2 cm (10 ft. 9 1/2 in. x 7 ft. 1 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Kente Prestige Cloth (Ghana), early to mid-20th century; viscose rayon; H x W: 328.9 x 217.2 cm (10 ft. 9 1/2 in. x 7 ft. 1 1/2 in.); Gift of Mrs Calvin W. Stillman; 1969-11-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition David Adjaye Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18467843/ |title=Kente Prestige Cloth (Ghana), early to mid-20th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=14 November 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>