The Curious History of African Textiles

The Curious History of African Textiles

By Ellen Arkfeld, guest blogger, who is interning with Dsenyo this summer.



We love the African wax print textiles with funky patterns and bright colors that we use in our bags.  But, strangely enough, many of what we know as “African textiles” don’t come from Africa at all.  In fact, the style of batik used to make them, where a pattern is painted on with wax and dyed to make a print, comes from Indonesia and was adapted by the Dutch when they colonized it.  The Dutch began to sell their manufactured wax print textiles, and, unable to find a market in Indonesia, sold them in West Africa.  The Indonesian technique was adapted to fit African style. Batik fabrics are made in African and imported from other countries.  Today, the presence of Dutch and other foreign-made textiles is huge in Africa, and Dutch textiles often set the trends for textiles made in Africa. Should locally made textiles have more of a presence, or are textiles made in foreign countries still African because they’re popular in Africa? What do you think?



 If you want to read more about the history of African textiles, check out this blog:

 Here’s a link to Vlisco, the top textile producer:

 Here’s a link to DaViva, another popular brand:

 This article talks about the authenticity of African textiles:




















































They use perfect combination

They use perfect combination of brights colors and beautifully design the textile. Aesome work. 

moving company queens

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Dsenyo (dee-SEN-yo) is giving a hand UP to women and artisans working their way out of poverty. Contemporary handbags, accessories and home decor celebrating African Textile design.

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About Dsenyo

Dsenyo is a social enterprise.  We believe business is a powerful way to address social and economic problems. Countless challenges confront creative people in Malawi, Africa as they try to build their businesses, practice their craft & support their families. 

After living in Malawi, artist Marissa Perry Saints founded Dsenyo to create opportunity for hard-working, African women and artisans.  Dsenyo offers hand-crafted bags and accessories that celebrate African textile design.  We follow Fair Trade principles working to create maximum benefit for the women, artisans & communities in which we work.



Arielle - Boulder, CO

Arielle - Boulder, CO

I love my two Hobo bags! There were so many great styles to choose from that I couldn’t pick just one. The Hobo bag is the perfect size to fit everything I need and yet it never feels too heavy or bulky. I feel great wearing my Hobos and knowing that by doing so I am helping empower women in Africa. I have also given friends and family Dsenyo bags as gifts and they love them too! It seems like there is a style and pattern for everyone. Plus, I love how sturdy they are and that they are eco-friendly. When you have one on, you just know that it is designed to last for years.

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