Nested

We’ve already looked at African tribal design in a previous post, but here are some more examples with a particular focus on animals.

• Dillon Marsh’s Assimilation series are not giant shaggy rugs hanging on telephone poles but bird’s nests made of grass, straw, cotton, and sticks. The sociable weaver bird builds these nests and welcomes all species of birds, a smart idea because more eyes can watch for predators and spot food sources.

• This Mask comes from the Niger River region and represents the human-animal character Banda. The human face has a crocodile’s jaw, antelope horns, and chameleon’s tail. In ritual dance, the raffia covers the face of the wearer and comes down to his knees, while he imitates the movements of various animals.

• The Mara Hoffman Fall 2013 Collection combined animal prints with designs inspired by the traditional textiles of Turkey, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

• This Pouch by Knot Fade Away has turquoise and citrine stones woven into the hemp macrame.

• Kim Covington’s Necklace strings together a wildly colorful array of African beads and small silver disks.

• Claudia Louis’ Pillow is made of African mud cloth with patterns that are narratives about that particular region or group.

• Ronald Omondi’s Kuba Cloth is made by the labor-intensive process of weaving raffia and creating geometric patterns with needlework and dying.

• Gertrude Kitia’s Beaded Sandals are made in her shop in the village of Usa River, Tanzania.

This Clutch by Orli + Mendelovitch has a tightly-folded geometric shape and a tough yet pliable surface that exposes wood grain.

• Addie’s Journal is made of rust-red leather with a mud cloth border.

• Carol Dean Sharpe’s Cuff is made of copper-colored beads crafted in a rippling peyote stitch.

Mud, Cloth, Metal

We’ve collected a group of objects and structures that offer a glimpse into the diversity of African tribal design.

• Structure, function, and decoration come together seamlessly in these Cob Houses, decorated with geometric patterns by a group of women in Tiébéle, a village in Burkina Faso. You can see more the collaborative process in this video.

• This headdress of a Ram dates back to 19th century Burkina Faso.

• Buki Abib’s Fela Collection fuses traditional knitting techniques with the textiles, color, and culture of her native Lagos.

• Silvia Peluso’s Ring is made of a double curl of copper embedded with silver rivets.

• Anne Marie’s Necklace combines water buffalo bone disks and a cow horn bead from Ghana.

• Sandra’s Pillow has a geometric design inspired by dresses worn by the Xhosa women of South Africa.

• Laura Pursell’s Bag is made of hand-painted mud cloth from Mali, and the inside is lined with wax print fabric covered in West African adinkra symbols. Part of the proceeds from each sale in her shop go to the Manya Krobo Queen Mothers Association. Check out her website – Threads of Change – to learn more about their mission of creating unique work that makes a difference.

• Virginia’s Spice Jars are made of wood and painted with designs inspired by African tribal patterns.

• Katie Leigh’s Necklace suspends a triangle, used in African trade for measurement, from a brass chain.

• Nicole Lebreux’s Cap Sleeve Tee has a screen-printed design inspired by Egyptian pottery.

• Claudia Louis’ Pillow has one side covered in patterned mud cloth and the other in a crochet knit modeled after Kuba cloth.

Tribal Remix

• Swiss photographer Namsa Leuba took the latest knitwear in high fashion to Conakry, Guinea, and directed local models to wear it as “statuettes.” The result mixes traditional symbolism and ritualistic elements with Leuba’s own inventive touch.

• Samuel Fosso takes self-portraits that combine traditional and modern iconography. He describes this photograph as “an African chief, in a western chair with a leopard-skin cover, and a bouquet of sunflowers. I am all the African chiefs who have sold their continent to the white men.”

• Donna’s Nautilus Shell Painting renders the spiraling stripes in acrylic.

• C. Hutson’s Bogolanfini Bag is made from mud cloth, a Malian fabric dyed using fermented mud.

• Tricia’s Tribal Necklace spices up tribal jewelry with a touch of neon. This multi-layered piece is made from turquoise stones, porcelain beads, coconut shell discs dyed coral and green, and coconut shards dyed pink.

• Leili’s Quagga Bowl has a textured surface of dense zebra stripes.

• Each component of Carol’s Tribal Necklace has a rich history. She strings together African signed amber beads, Venetian red beads made in the late nineteenth century for trade with Africa, and Italian milifori beads.

• Lico’s Braided Leather Necklace mixes antique stamped bone, beads from Ghana and Ethiopia, and strips of soft leather.

• Giselle gives new life to washed up horseshoe crab shells with her Tribal Mask series. She painted this Shell with a gold, black, and silver color palette.