Unraveling the History of African Ankara/Kitenge Fabrics & Fans

Unraveling the History of African Ankara/Kitenge Fabrics & Fans

Our fans are cut fabric from African Ankara Kitenge fabric. Our authentic fans come straight from the source and are made in Kenya or Ghana. They are folding fans with genuine leather handles and a leather thong to hold them together.

Ankara/Kitenge fans have a curious and diverse origin story. Surprisingly, the technique employed to create Ankara fabric did not originate in Africa. As far back as the sixth century, Indonesians mastered the art of crafting batik wax fabrics, as documented by The Jakarta Post. When the Dutch colonized Indonesia in the 19th century, they began shipping batik fabric worldwide, including in West Africa. The vibrant colors and intricate patterns became intertwined with specific families and ethnic groups. Today, Africans wear the cloth for grand celebrations and everyday activities in Africa. Thus, an Indonesian technique introduced to West Africa through Dutch trade has now become virtually synonymous with the region. The folding hand fan, traditionally credited to Chinese or Japanese origins, has also become a prevalent accessory in Africa.

Ankara/Kitenge fans also carry a more profound meaning – symbolizing a blend of pan-Africanism that resonates with Black individuals in the diaspora, who long for a connection to Africa.


"Want to Stay Cool? Try Ankara Fans" Tomi Obaro, Nytimes.com

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