History and Meaning behind African Wax Print - Ankara

If you are a big fashion diva or someone who loves to indulge in the different trends and dynamics in the fashion world; then you might have noticed the impact African fabrics are making in the world.

While long lost in the fashion race in the past, these pieces of fabrics have made their way back with a bang with many well-known artists endorsing these gorgeous designs.

Among the various gorgeous African pieces one of the most popular stands with the name Ankara. If you have heard its name or came across it, have you ever thought about how Ankara came into existence? If not, then this dive into the historic and meaningful identification of African Wax Print got you covered.

History of African Wax Print Cloth

The African Wax Print Cloth, also known as Ankara, is a popular fabric in the region of Africa. Its production and popularity are so deeply engrossed in the region that many believe Ankara's initial existence and roots date back to Africa only. However, this isn't the case.

Ankara was first developed in Indonesia when the Dutch colonized the region. The Dutch in Indonesia used a Batik method to create these beautiful pieces of fabric that had immense pop of colors to them.

Batik style On Fabric

The Batik method referred to the dyeing and manufacturing of fabric by hand. However, during colonization, the merchants saw an opportunity to mass-produce fabric through machines and sell them for their benefit.

While the Ankara pattern print was manufactured on a machine just fine, the Indonesians did not like this innovative manufacturing. Instead, they stuck to their own hand-printed Ankara.

Batik Indonesian Fabric

However, the West African soldiers and people serving in Indonesia during that period were intrigued by this machine-processed fabric and brought some back home with them. This helped popularize the fabric in the region.

Today, the Batik method is used by many women in Ghana and different parts of Africa to make gorgeous African Wax prints by hand, and many factories process and manufacture it on machinery as well.

How Did the African Wax Print Make its Way from Indonesia to West Africa?

The African soldiers took the fabric prints along with them and played a pivotal role in popularizing the Ankara pattern in the region; this wasn't all.

Once the African soldiers brought the African Wax Print clothes to their hometowns, it became popular. However, its production has yet to begin in the region. The Dutch, on the other hand, on their travels between Indonesia and Europe, had to often stop in the regions of the large landmass of Africa for fuels and other supplies.

These short trips helped them realize that while the Indonesians did not like the manufactured Batik fabric, it became an instant hit in the Sub-Saharan deserts of Africa.

Hence, the Dutch changed their designs and colors to suit the African taste and started exporting them to the African regions. The people of Ghana also played a pivotal role in promoting the fabric by utilizing it in various aspects and then making its way throughout Africa.

Today, Africa produces its popular wax prints, clothes, and designs that are popular globally too.

How is the Africa Print Fabric Made?

Many people are often interested in understanding about this beautiful piece of clothing is manufactured. The steps below will help you understand this:

  • The machine prints a layer of melted molten wax on both sides.
  • The cloth is then submerged in an Indigo dye bath
  • A machine may crack the wax to create intricate details like bubbling or marble effects.
  • The machine will also add two to three colors to the design if required.
  • The cloth is then washed and boiled to remove the wax, which is recycled.
  • Different finishes are applied, and the cloth is made available for sale.

What Can the African Fabric Use for?

The African Fabric is stunning, given its intricate designs and pop of culture. However, while it is attractive to the eye, the best part about this particular fabric is the versatility in use it holds. Want to know what African Fabrics can be used for? Here is a list concluded for you.

General Uses in Africa

  • Wrap it around the body like a towel
  • Used as Apron while cooking
  • The African print is used to form many clothes.
  • In Africa, mothers use this fabric to carry their babies as well.

Mother Carrying Baby with Ankara Sling

Uses in Home Décor Globally

  • Cushions
  • Lampshades
  • Curtains
  • Bed sheets
  • Napkins
  • Quilts

African Print Insipred Tote Bag

Uses of African Print in Accessories

  • Bags
  • Shoes
  • Headwraps
  • Scrunchies
  • Bow Tie
  • Pocket Square

Beautiful Black Women in Ankara Fabric


Things to Consider When Buying African Ankara Print Fabrics

Now that you know the versatile use African Ankara prints hold, we are sure you'd be willing to buy one. However, like all fabrics, understanding the dynamics around Ankara and the critical points that go into buying this particular fabric is essential. If you are willing to buy an Ankara fabric but need clarification about buying the right one, then we have you covered. The points below will help you understand what you should consider while buying the African Wax Print.

1.   Make sure the African Ankara Brand is Trustworthy.

Before making a purchase, ensure that the brand you purchase the Ankara fabric from is trustworthy. Several companies manufacture Ankara pieces; however, not all fabrics are of African authenticity.

Hence, before making a purchase, always ensure that your chosen vendor is reliable, authentic, and trustworthy.

2.   Locate and Verify the Brand Name Printed on the Cloth or Fabric

The above point leaves many questioning how one can check the authenticity of any brand; before making an Ankara purchase remember to check the hem of the fabric or clothing piece. The hem is the outer end of any piece of clothing that runs parallel along the length and holds the name of the brand that manufactured it.

Search for the brand on the internet and read reviews about it; you will understand whether the manufactured piece is authentic.

3.   Use Technology to Guarantee Authenticity 

With the massive technological enhancement, many brands use a more technical approach to protect authentic African wax prints from fake ones.

Many companies now use silver labels that reveal a security code when scratched. Texting the security code to the number given will notify users whether the fabric they bought is authentic or fake. 

The technical approach has helped people buy more authentic fabric pieces and clear away fake ones. However, the approach is rare, and only a few brands currently utilize it.