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Kente Cloth

Production and use

People in the Kente cloth industry often work together in co-operatives to design, weave, sew together and sell cloths.

Kente strips are woven on narrow looms, with warp threads that are between 10 and 14cm wide. The warp threads are tensioned into the loom and the weaver controls the loom using pedals. Putting pressure on one pedal lowers the even-numbered warp threads, while pushing the other pedal lowers the odd-numbered threads. The weft threads are wound onto shuttles, which are passed from one side of the loom, through the space between upper and lower warp threads, to the other side of the loom. Then the pedals are reversed and the shuttle is passed back again. The weft threads are pushed tightly against each other.

The strips are usually woven into lengths of between 1.5m (for tourists) and 10m (for the local market). A skilled weaver can make a 10m strip in about two days. People then buy individual strips and have them sewn together to make large pieces of cloth. These are either made into toga-style robes, or into more western-style clothing such as waistcoats, scarves and sashes.

Very wealthy Ghanaians and royalty wear Kente robes made from silk or rayon, double woven for superior quality and durability. Cheaper cloths are made from cotton threads.

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