A Guide to the Most Popular African Prints in the African Culture

The fashion world is a whirlpool of beautiful prints, aesthetics, and designs that leave many in awe. This is because, with the fashion industries worldwide flourishing, each culture holds significant designs that make it unique and different from the rest and an essential part of many homes and wardrobes.

However, in between these versatile designs, there were a few of those that, in the initial years, were pushed on the back seat but roared the way back, given their loud color tones and awe-inspiring designs.

Don’t understand what we are talking about? Well, African prints of course.

African Prints came swiftly back into fashion and style through the help of many celebrities like Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, etc., who awakened this long-forgotten print back into style.

If you plan to utilize these gorgeous African culture prints in the aesthetics of your home or your wardrobe. Then we got you covered. 

Below are the best African prints you cannot relate to and would love to know about.

A Tell-Tale to the Most Popular African Fabric Prints

The African prints are gorgeous, with geometrical designs and vibrant culture. However, the prints are beautiful to look at and have an equally enticing tale to them too.

If you are someone who didn’t know this before, then let us acknowledge you on some of the most famous African fashion prints and the stories they hold with them. Hop on below.

1.   Ankara

Black Woman in Ankara Clothing

Ankara is undeniably the most sought-after fabric in the African Fashion industry. Also called the African wax print, Kitenge, or Dutch wax print, Ankara is a popular piece of clothing worldwide.

This particular fabric has been utilized in the U.S. fashion world since the early 70s when the hip-hop culture took over. The Dutch made the Ankara pattern using the ‘Batik’ method, which is still used in eastern parts of India.

The Dutch also created this beautiful print and sold it in the Indonesian textile market during the 19th century. Hence, Ankara holds a rich history that dictates its evolution, and its use in fashion and accessories today shows how much of an impact it still makes.

2.   Ukara-Ekpe

The origin of this fabric dates back to the Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, and the Cross River of southern, eastern Nigeria. The fabric print signifies strength and leadership, and hence the Ukara-Ekpe was believed to be worn by only the most respected and titled older women and men in the African Tribe.

According to history, it is believed that the Ekpe society was the first tribe to come up with this design.

The Ukara-Ekpe fabric is dyed red, green, and blue, each of which symbolizes a set of different emotions and stages of life. The intricate designs of the moon, harvest, geometrical patterns, metal rods, feathers, etc., were designed by Mali Nsibidi artists.

The same designs are used today in different sets of clothing and home décor, elevating the aesthetics and giving it a regal touch just like it signifies. 

3.   Bogolan

Bogolan Brown Tan Fabric

Many people are going green and choosing eco-friendly products for their lifestyle. If you are searching for eco-friendly clothing to wear, then choosing the Bogolan African Print is what you should opt for.

Bogolan fabrics, also known as Mudcloth and are created by the Bambara tribe of Mali. The word ‘Bogolan’ literally means ‘made from mud,’ and true to its name, the fabric is manufactured from dried plants, roots, and fruits used as a dye.

Given its natural production and eco-friendly nature, this fabric is perfect for all skin types and can be utilized in every home and fashion accessory you like.

4.   Barkcloth

Bark Cloth Fabric

The Barkcloth is yet another eco-friendly piece of fabric. Given its name, the fabric is manufactured from the bark of some sturdy trees. The creation of this particular fabric takes place from the trees of the Moraceae family and is a sense of pride for many families and tribes in the locality of Uganda.

The trees used in the creation of Barkcloth are Artocarpus Altilis, Broussonetia Papyrifera, and Ficus Natalensis.

5.   Leso/Khanga

 Leso/ Khanga Fabric

The Leso/Khanga is a production in eastern Africa; however, the fabric holds much significance in the Western world. The primary reason for the popularity of this product is the words of love, blessings, friendship, and wisdom imprinted on it.

The best part about this fabric is that you can get this customized according to your liking. So customers can get the words of their choice printed on it. The Khanga treads are thin hence making the fabric airy and cool.

6.   Kente

Kente Wear

Popularly used in the shawl and stole prints, many people might have worn this design at least once without knowing what it was. The Kente print came into production in the Ghana province of Africa during the 11th century.

The craft is now being produced by the Ethnic groups of Ewe and Ashanti in Ghana. These groups produce the gorgeous fabric locally and ship it to different parts of the world.

The name Kente is derived from the word Kenten which means basket. Given the fabrics woven patterns, the print was hence called Kente, considering its similarity with woven baskets.

7.   Adire

Black Woman In Adire Wear

 The word Adire refers to the meaning of ‘tie and dye’ in Yoruba. According to historical evidence, it is believed that this indigo dyeing practice was first developed in the Dogon Kingdom of Mali in Western Africa during the 11th century.

It is also believed that the regions of Abeokuta, Ibadan, and Osogbo were the primary supplying source for this fabric in West Africa. However, with time the art evolved, and from the traditional indigo dying, the Europeans added a touch of synthetic indigo and caustic soda to the fabric printing style.

While, with time, the traditional method was transitioned into new styles with additional touch-ups, the impact Adire made in the world remained the same. Today, this fabric is manufactured by the Yoruba women who weave these cotton handspun clothes themselves.

8.   Isi-Agu

The word Isi-Agu refers to the meaning of ‘lion’s head’ in the Igbo language. True to its name, the fabric holds a sense of regality and is usually worn by the royals and critical tribal members in Igbo.

The fabric is made from velvet or cotton material in the Eastern side of Nigeria and is generally donned by the royals during essential events of wedding ceremonies.

The fabric is used to create short or long-sleeved pullover shirts and locally is worn by men when they become the Chief of their tribes. This pullover shirt-type robe is worn along with red fez hats, which together show the importance and respect for the new Chief in the tribe. Sometimes, the chieftain also wore it with an Igbo leopard hat.

However, today, women wear this fabric on essential occasions in the Igbo, like weddings and the birth of their child. The fabric is substantial, beautiful, and notches up to royalty perfectly.

Hence, if there is one piece of fabric one can choose for an extravagant royal look, then you should opt for this.


African prints and culture are slowly making their way into many first-world countries. With exceptional designs and colors that add such a gorgeous pop, it will not be long before these intrinsic details and colors might rule the fashion world.

If you want to know about beautiful African print, then we hope this article was sufficient for you.