Colour and patterns

Colour is the most immediately visible stylistic element. The two-colour or polychrome process depends on the number of dye baths which follow the preparation of reserves.  Formerly exclusively natural, dyes today are often synthetic.  The choice of colour is associated with symbolism of the colours and this aspect is equally referred to here.


Some original patterns come from reserve-dyeing processes and are revealed by playing with the colours.

  • indigo


  • parrot green

    parrot green

  • red


  • colour symbolism

    colour symbolism

  • ochre and brown

    ochre and brown

  • multicoloured


  • paint highlights

    paint highlights

  • dotted spiral

    dotted spiral

  • circular pattern

    circular pattern

  • figurative dotted lines

    figurative dotted lines

  • irregular line design

    irregular line design

  • sewing on pleats

    sewing on pleats

  • geometric representation, sowing

    geometric representation, sowing

  • figurative




Ukara or loincloth Nigeria, Cross River, Igbo, Ejagham, 20th century Cotton Donation from Mr and Mrs Corlay. 70.2006.18.174

Patterns are sewn on the cloth using raffia thread. According to the shape of the pattern and the intended thickness of the line, sewing may be carried out on a folded portion. The fabric is then dyed with indigo. This cloth is associated with the Leopard Society. Geometric patterns alternate with figurative ones, star, moon, hand, and animals, tortoise, crocodile, fish, snake and the leopard, of course, having a strong symbolic power. 198x156 cm