Usage – ways of dressing and others
After exploring the different factors that are involved in decorative development, some examples allow the evocation of the role and place that fabrics play in the social life, as marks of identity, such as elements of profane or religious rituals or as vectors of artistic expression.
The majority of decorated fabrics that enter into social rituals, or have a symbolic function with their patterns or colours, are mainly clothing but they can also have other profane or ceremonial uses.
mark of power
Ceremonial fabrics Cameroons, Bamoun, end of 19th century – beginning of 20th century Handspun cotton Donation by Louis Carré 71.1935.28.1
Fabrics known under the name of ndop are used by the Bamilekes and the Bamouns during ceremonies as draperies or for clothing. The design reproduces the symbolised plan of the palace and the fabric becomes as such a metaphor for power. The manufacture of these fabrics was developed in the Cameroons at the end of the 19th century under the initiative of the Sultan Bamoun Njoya, and various influences, notably that of Jukun of Wukari in Nigeria, where an important production continued to be exported to the Cameroons. Numerous players, both men and women, sometimes very far away became involved in their production from spinning the cotton up to dyeing. Seventy-eight narrow strips of cloth woven locally, known as leppi, are brought together in a large rectangle of fabric. The design has previously been traced with the help of a vegetable colouring agent and the patterns reserved by hand sewing for overcast stitching with the help of a thin vegetable strip. The fabric sometimes pleated locally. Once the reserves have been removed, dyeing takes place in vegetable indigo in two baths in order to obtain two shades of blue. 486x194 cm