What You Need to Know About African Patterns

Africa is a land of culturally rich heritage and a wealth of patterns. In fact, everywhere you look, you’ll see repetitions of shapes, colors, textures, and lines in all sorts of arrangements. Besides being visually engaging, patterns are quite an innate thing in Africa.

If you take a drive anywhere in this place, you’ll find patterns on the decorated houses, road stalls usually defined by color and shape. In this article, we’ve rounded up briefly about African patterns.

So, let’s get started!

African Patterns- Decoding The Story Behind it

Do you remember Adinka robes worn by Ashanti men? The fabric has various patterns that have symbolic significance. Africa is usually known for its individual art. For centuries, art was greatly influenced by the environment and natural surroundings.

Most patterns used in African art are either geometric or symbolic. If you see historic buildings, you’ll find a lot of geometrical variations in a repetitive order. For instance, chevrons and zigzags are primarily part of every form and facet of African decoration. Geometric shapes of diamonds or diamonds are the most common shape that can be painted, incised, printed, or embroidered. You name it, and you’ll find an example right away.

Sadly, a lot of the meaning and historical significance got lost in the modern era. But still, many are passing down this traditional heritage from generation to generation. For instance, bold patterns, either painted or etched, are quite an integral component of African mask design.

Besides the geometric patterns, symbols also hold great importance in African patterns. They are like visual expressions of any society’s culture, its beliefs, and history. Some might have proverbial meaning, while others might signify the wisdom of the tribe.

The idea is to communicate feelings, knowledge, and feelings. It could be anything from animal prints or humans related to critical events. So, whether you see an african rug, a clothing fabric, or a sculpture, whatever shape they’ll include will have a meaning behind its inclusion in the pattern.

Let’s understand this more with the following examples.

● Using parallel zigzags is about following the path of ancestors.

● Chequerboard black or white triangles/ squares represent ignorance and the beginning of learning and accumulating wisdom, respectively.

But, it’s not only the patterns that rule African art. Color has a lot of significance in African cloth as well.

African people ensure that there is meaning or spirituality behind each work. Even color variations hold meaning depending on the tribes and subgroups of the culture. While there might be a bit of difference depending on the culture, mainly the following colors have similar meanings.

● White symbolizes spirituality and purity. It is usually reserved for the purest people or circumstances.

● Gold usually represents wealth or fertility. The artists use it in the hope of a prosperous life.

● Red is usually used to represent trouble in spirituality or the political world.

● Blue signifies love and peace.

You will find variations of patterns and colors in all the common African patterns—Kuba cloth, Mudcloth, Kente Cloth. Every option holds a different meaning and significance to its tribe or sub-group.

Wrapping Up

Clearly, African prints have so much significance. Although they might be a natural color palette or design for African people, they blend well with other neutral tones.

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