Wandering Spirit: African Wax Prints

  • October 22, 2019 through November 30, 2019
  • Stauth Memorial Museum, Montezuma, Kansas
The success of wax prints derived from a traditional technique of wax-resist dying, in which a patter is made on both sides of cotton fabric with warm liquid wax applied by a tjanting, a small brass cup with a sprout, is driven by many factors, such as culture, taste and the desires of the African consumers. Africa serves an important means of communication, sending secret messages and retelling local proverbs. Clothing also depicts a person's social status and position, political convictions, ambition, marital status, ethnicity, age, sex and group affiliations. The names and stories associated with the fabrics differ from country to country and region to region. One fabric may have different names in different countries, depending on the symbolism that the consumer can read in the fabric. Though not originally African, these textiles have become ingrained in African culture and society, and loved and identified as their own.  
Courtesy of the Beatrice Benson Collection
"King's Chair Dress Form," Unidentified artist, 1980; Vlisco wax block.

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