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The Symbolism of Tie Dye Fabric in Africa

08/09/2016 05:45

When a lot of us see tie dye we think of hippies and 60's culture, but did you know that tie dyeing has long been a practice in Africa? From Ghana to Gambia, tie dyeing is one of the many ways that African artisans like to express their style and diversity. Many of the symbols you'll see in African tie dye come from the various cultures in Africa. Tie dye from West Africa often features Ashanti, Akan or Adinkra symbols. Many plants and animals signify different things in the Ashanti culture; for example, an alligator symbolizes adaptability, a heart signifies patience and tolerance, and the famous Gye Nyame symbol symbolizes God's omnipotence and power.

How is African Tie Dye Made?

This tie dye dress is from Mali, West Africa There are several techniques used for tie-dyeing in Africa. One method is to have a cloth tied or stitched tightly so that the dye can't penetrate the fabric. Then a starchy substance is applied to the fabric. This will resist the dye giving the fabric pale areas on a dark background when it’s washed at the end of the dyeing process. This is more often used for two-tone tie-dye. Another method of tie dyeing of folding a strip of cloth into several narrow pleats and binding them together. The folds and the binding resist the dye to produce a linear and cross-hatched effect. Another tie-dyeing technique is a process of painting freehand with starch before dyeing in order to resist dye. Tie-dyeing takes a lot of time, effort, and skill, and artisans in Africa love the ability it gives them to be creative and express the symbols of their culture.

Where Can I Find African Tie Dye? We have a large selection of tie dye outfits and tie dye fabric available! You can see some tie dye fabric here. You can find Gambian tie dye dashikis here, Gambian tie dye dresses here, a Senegalese tie dye dress here, and even more tie dye options by simply looking up "tie dye" on our search engine.