Another big congratulations to the wax print giant, Vlisco, on reaching 170 years of production. To personally mark the celebration on my blog, I have chosen to highlight the most iconic fabrics. You would have probably noticed your grandmother or mothers wearing some of these prints. Or even better, you have been passed down, some of them. Here is little exciting history lesson for you.
NSU BURA (WATER FALL in TWI)
NSU Bura was designed in 1936 by Mr. Piet Snel, a Dutch fabric designer at Vlisco. The design was derived from a 1926 drawing of a tie dye circle motif. The name means waterfall in Twi, due to the fact hat when you throw something in a bowl of water, a pool or well, it turns clockwise creating a circular ripple design, similar to the one shown on the cloth.
The Proverb behind the name of this historic fabric is 'a solitary tree catches all the wind and snaps' meaning that if you try and support all your family and friends by yourself that will be the end of you-thus everything we do must be done in unity and togetherness.
Vlasco's best selling pattern made in wax block style. The 'Happy Family" values from which the wearer derives status. At the centre is the mother hen, surrounded by her chicks and future chicks i.e. the eggs. To the side is the father- rooster. the central figure of the mother hen is to play homage to the pivotal role the woman plays int he family.
This classic design is a depiction of a rearing horse. In Nigeria it is traditionally known worn by Igbo women at their women's meeting in August. In the Ivory Coast the meaning expresses rivalry between wives, known as 'je cours plus vote due ma rivals', (I run faster than my rival).
An International favorite, Angelina has become synonymous with African style, the black power and hippie movements of the 1960's and 1970's. The name 'Angelina' has its roots in 1970's Ghana. In the late seventies, the popularity of the print coincided with the release of the hit song 'Angelina' by legendary Ghanaian highlife group the west talks. People began referring to the printed fabric as 'Angelina' after the similarly vibrant track.
So the next time you buy your Vlisco, dig a little deeper into the symbols you see on your fabric. It might mean a little bit more than you think.