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Crafts Found In Africa

It’s not a country Ocelot Market has explored much yet, but it is seriously on our radar. Africa is such a wide, diverse continent filled with a history of craft...

It’s not a country Ocelot Market has explored much yet, but it is seriously on our radar. Africa is such a wide, diverse continent filled with a history of craft that is wider than the Nile. From one country to the next, there are textile traditions and natural processes that have been passed down from generation to generation and seriously evolved into modern times. We hope you love learning about them. If there is something that you love that we missed, let us know! Email us at


Maasai Beading from Kenya

Native to Southern Kenya, the beaded jewelry you have probably seen in passing are made by the Maasai women’s tribe. Previously made out of found resources like clay, wood and bone, this changed when the Europeans began trading with glass beads in the lat 19th century. This tradition has stuck ever since. Though both men and women wear the decorative jewelry, it is typically made by women. The colors and patterns of each necklace indicates someones age, gender, social and marital status.


Bolga Baskets Ghana

Bolgatanga in the Northeast region of Ghana became known for what we now know at Bolga Baskets actually due to their climate. During the long dry seasons, these dedicated farmers would be left with little to do and started producing these to trade on the South Saharan Trade roude to Khartoum. Of course this is the age old story, however, now the colorful baskets you see on the street have more modern sensibilities. The methods are the same but the materials and shape vary. The colors that you see are most likely pigments coming from Germany. The straw material is coming from Kumasi in the south. This collaboration of traditional methodologies with modern necessity is what makes this craft beautiful and sustainable.


Mudcloth from Mali

As you might expect, creating mudcloth is quite a task. Though a totally hands on natural one. By using leaves and branches as a mordant bath to start, drying the cloth in the sun then painting many layers of special mud collected from the ponds, patterns start to take form. The lighter areas are actually bleached to add depth to the layers. But these aren’t just random patterns, they are symbols with meanings and storylines that are passed down by generation.


Wax Prints from West Africa

Ankara, also known as African Wax Prints, are the really bold, beautiful patterned cotton fabrics you have probably seen on powerful women on Instagram. They are attention grabbing and bold usually used on a full outfit like jumpsuit, dress or skirt crop top combo. They are most common in West Africa and you probably did not even know they incorporated wax until now, or did you? They also carry many messages and can be named after saying or worn for specific occasions. Unfortunately there are many companies outside of Africa that produce these prints now so ensuring authenticity and quality can be very hard.


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