Textiles & Dyes 2022

Indigo Textile Dyeing in Daboya, Ghana

The Indigo Dyeing Tradition in Daboya: Notes from the Field

Daboya is a semi-urban community in the Savanna Region of Ghana. It is well noted for its organic indigo textile dyeing and weaving tradition which dates back to over three centuries. Before the introduction of synthetic dyes, Indigo was the foundation of most textile traditions in West Africa. In Ghana, most of the traditional smock dresses and related fabrics that are worn are produced in Daboya. Below, I present an account of the indigo dyeing process as observed in Daboya in May 2022.

Renga between Past and Present Selves

Clad in polka dots,

Eyes glitter despite wet toes,

Exchanging this love.


After days of rain, the sunlight

shimmers – dappled shadows dance.


Living tradition,

Colors bleed transformation,

An elsewhere awaits.


What do our bodies know that

text cannot articulate?


Shuttling asleep,

Lines collapse past and future.

Who holds the power?


Resisting capture, its wings

flutter, fighting off the pin.

The migratory life of my mums 'misar'

This is my ‘misar’, a beautifully red and black tie-dyed silk scarf that was handed down from my nani, my maternal grandmother to my mum and is now kept close to me in my home. This ‘misar’ represents the bundles of fabrics that travelled with Indian migrants as they moved across the world, specifically in my case, on the ships that brought the first passenger Indians from Gujerat to the shores of Natal, South Africa.

Function vs Form: What determines a design's value?

The first photograph is one that depicts a Jacquard loom print card, a piece of cardboard that has been punctured with holes in order to consistently replicate a complex design on a weaving loom. This particular print card would have been used to create handmade Dutch damask linen in the 19th century, as part of the W.J. van Hoogerwou & Zonen mill whose pieces are currently located at the Textielmuseum in Tilburg, Netherlands. One such product of damask linen would be a tablecloth, which was also on display nearby. 

Confronting Transnational Histories and Grappling with Unhealed Histories in Leiden

This image is of the front edifice of the Museum de Lakenhal in Leiden, NL. Carved in the facade are representation of the spinning, weaving, and dyeing process for the historic laken textile produced in Leiden in the Early Modern Era. Through paintings of textiles and their production and the museum is dedicated to telling the history of the laken textile process that was historic to Leiden for centuries until production was halted in 1979.

Fanning Frictions

As we walked through the hall of "Asia" to reach "Africa," the Volkenkunde Museum's only displayed object from Thailand caught my eye, its embroidered metal threads glinting in the dark. Embroidered script and teardop-shaped lotus buds adorn a piece of silk stretched tight around a frame to form an oblong fan that would have been held by a monk near his face as he chanted during rituals at a temple, in a homes, or in other spaces where monks are invited to preside.

Afghan War Carpets

In the winter of 2021 while visiting family in Pakistan, I was searching the carpet stores of Islamabad for an affordable rug to take back to Toronto. Islamabad, with the highest number of foreign diplomats in Pakistan, is full of art and craft stores in central locations which cater mainly to non-Pakistanis. As compared to stores which target locals, these craft stores have a well-curated collection of ‘authentic-looking’ craft that appeal more to Western palates.


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