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Ndop Textile Bamileke Dyed Indigo Cloth Cameroon African Art

Product #: 128447
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Title Ndop Textile Bamileke Dyed Indigo Cloth Cameroon African Art
Type of Object Ndop
Country of Origin Cameroon
People Bamileke, Bamum, Bamenda
Materials Cotton, indigo
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 46 Inches
Width: 52 Inches
Overall Condition Very Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair General wear, tears on the ends, few small holes.

We do not recommend laundering textiles, and do not accept returns of textiles which have been laundered in any manner.  Even dry cleaning is too much for some of these antique textiles.  For some of them, a very gentle HAND washing  (NEVER MACHINE, on any setting)  in cool water with a very gentle detergent works, but even then, dyes may not be colorfast, and fabric may be less strong than it appears.

Additional Information: A Handwoven textiles tied to the kingship an considered as a symbol of chiefly power and status  and used in  funerary rituals. This is a very old textile showing extensive used. 

This cloth  is made out of cotton dyed with indigo pigment using the resist-dye technique. The design overstretched with raffia. Paul Gebauer wrote an interesting description of the technique used in the fabrication of such textiles: " The local handspun cotton was woven into narrow strips, each about two inches wide, and then sewn together, edge to edge, to form the cloth"  Guided by a rough outline, the cloth was stitched together tightly with dye-resistant raffia fiber. The stitched fabric was then dyed in indigo."  (in Paul Gebauer, Art of Cameroon, 1979, fig. 163, p. 280)

It was stated that such textiles originated in East-Central Nigeria. They were brought in Cameroon by the Hausa traders.  Adopted by the Bamun Sultan Njoya of Fumba at the end of the 19th century,  these textiles become very popular in the royal courts first before their use was extended to notabilities and other categories of the population. The large ones used by the royal court were very decorative and used patterns related the royalty: ground plans of royal court, animals associated to the political power (leopard, Elephant...) . Their principal uses were "either with the symbolism of chiefly power and status or with funerary customs and rituals," according to AU CAMEROON_WEAVING-TISSAGE, by Lamb, which has extensive information and superb photos. Hung behind the king during official ceremonies, such textiles were symbols of  the power of the king and completed the ceremonies. Tunics such as this were worn by dignitaries.