Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dutch Wax Design from Helmond to West Africa

Posted on Friday 11 January 2008 - 13:58

AfricaNews editor
Robin van Koert - Stichting Afrikaanse Dutch Wax
"Starting as chintz in India, via traditional Indonesian batik, cheap Dutch imitations and low land batiks for the African market, within a short period of time the coloured cotton from Helmond will be manufactured in the part of the world with which it is most often identified: West Africa."
Vlisco Mode
During the 1950s, struggle and hope predominate in sub-Saharan Africa. Self-determination and locally owned industries are the aspirations. Vlisco, the Helmond-based producer of the popular wax prints, is afraid to lose its markets. The British United Africa Company fears for its trading business. In the end, the British decide to build their own factories in West Africa.

“After several decades of political instability and economic mismanagement, during the last fifteen years the Ghanaian economy has returned almost to the level of fifty years ago. Optimism about the future pervades the country. On the other hand, the Ivorians still cannot quite fathom how the end of their “economic miracle” could so dramatically have led to the end of political stability. As yet, optimism is a scarce commodity in Côte d’Ivoire.”

Despite frequent political instability and economic difficulties, Ghana Textile Printing in Ghana and Uniwax in Côte d’Ivoire have managed to hold their own to this very day. Their products form a part of the national identity of the two countries, as well as of the political, economic, and cultural history of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

“Tradition, naming and image, it is a combination pregnant with meaning. A symbolism that remains unnoticed by many visitors to Africa. The amply variegated colours of the artful designed and shaped, or nonchalantly worn, wax, java and fancy prints draw admiring and amazed looks. The colours, designs and patterns arouse curiosity and surprise. Only for those in the know do they represent words, hidden in the colourful shapes.”

This book narrates the fascinating story of these two factories, as seen through the eyes of Ivorians, Ghanaians and Dutchman, who have been involved in their history, are still involved in their present or will be in their future. Special attention is paid to the relationship with Vlisco in Helmond, the Netherlands. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, patterns by Dutch designers have acquired a special cultural, religious, and ceremonial significance in West Africa.

“International trade networks and routes brought the wax prints from their origins as Indian batiks via Indonesia and the Netherlands to West Africa. After some delay, the factories followed the traders. Will ongoing globalisation return the production of wax prints back to where it all started, that is, to Asia?”

If you are interested in this book, please contact Jan van der Heijden of the stichting Afrikaanse Dutch Wax via j.heijden7@chello.nl.

interesting post from the blogger

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