African textile

Timeline created by Yimiao Liu
  • 5000 BCE

    The start of African textiles

    African people started their fabric industry back in 5,000 BC. The Egyptians began to grow flax and weave it into linen. Back then, only rich people would wear line because this material was rare. This was the first version of textile arts. The clothing was mostly plain.
  • 2400 BCE

    Pharaoh and African fabric industry

    African people started making linen into clothes, tapestries, and crafts. It had been recorded on the tomb of Khnumhotep (pharaoh). Early hieroglyphics, sculptures, and fresco on the pyramids also described how they used an old loom. Linen was more common for all communities.
  • 1600 BCE

    Nubians and fabric

    Nubians made strong woven textiles. It is also the period of time where African started making fabric from tree bark. The development of several civilized countries in Africa has been very prosperous. Cotton had replaced linen as a more commonly used fabric for making clothes in Egypt.
  • 500

    Using cottons for textiles

    South Sudan started using cotton, all well as other parts of Africa. More and more places started doing that by the 5th Century. It was more comfortable than linen. Poor communities were still using linen as major clothing needs. Only a few rich people started to wear cotton in Africa. Wearing cotton could show their status.
  • 500


    In Egypt, kilim (woven tapestry) had been used as carpets since at least the 5th century. Today, the handicraft is still very popular in Africa and Asia and is often used as a prayer blanket.
  • 800


    In the 8th Century, boubou (what we called today) had been invented. It was started in West Africa. slamized Tukulor (Toucouleur), Mandé, and Songhai peoples of the great Takrur and Ghana empires worn it. It normally would be made in silk. At that time, only rich people would wear them. Silk was very comfortable. In the hot weather in Africa, only rich people are qualified to enjoy good, newest fabrics
  • 1100

    Textile manufacturing technology - Stripweave

    The first human-made textile pattern appeared in the West Africa. Mande, a weaver, was the first to master the art of weaving patterns into strips. This showed African people's intelligent knowledge of making clothing in history.
  • 1400

    Finding patterns

    Finding patterns
    More old-fashionable style patterns had been discovered and made by West Africans at the same time when Islam was introduced. Traditional African patterns born at this time. Rich people got to wear clothing with the newest patterns. However, poor people had to work in the textile industry. Some patterns were related to their culture. For example, African people might use the shape of their village as one pattern on their textile.
  • Dye

    Dye was also discovered in West Africa. West Africa has one of the world's great textile-producing. They used colour from the red soil of the earth and turned it into dyestuff. That means red was the first natural colour. Other colours were from vegetable and mineral sources. African people got inspiration from the neutral, earth, sky, water, ocean, etc... If anyone walk on the streets wore red colour clothing, that means they were rich.
  • Handmake fabric artwork

    Handmake fabric artwork
    Because Europe and other countries have long suppressed the economy of small African villages. Wars are frequent in this era. So machines have not been popularized over there very early. But through those hand-making clothing could tell that what people wear is very important in the culture. This is telling us African people cares about their outfit as one traditional culture.
  • Technology

    This is a photo from recently, but the textile machine and technology began in the 19th Century. Colourful artwork shows the African people's personalities. They are enjoying their textile industry.
  • Traditional patterns using in pillows

    Traditional patterns using in pillows
    Tradition technology has been used in various ways. Pillow is one popular craft that people from other countries would buy.
  • Clothing for special celebrations

    Clothing for special celebrations
    African people wear their traditional clothing in front of fabric artwork. This is shown they treat their celebrations very seriously so that they would put on their most traditional clothing on the most important holidays.
  • Fashionable clothing with traditional patterns

    Fashionable clothing with traditional patterns
    This pattern has a long history. Companies used the pattern but with a modern style that young girls like a lot. Not just African people would wear clothing like this, but also people from all around the world. The pretty dresses are normally cotton, very comfortable to wear in the summer. Nowadays, the cost of clothing drops, everyone can wear fashionable clothing. Because the whether there, African people choose the most comfortable fabric and style for the seasons.