Friday, March 27, 2009

History of shwe shwe

Shwe-shwe (or schwe schwe) fabric was introduced to South Africa with German settlers in the 19th century, but over time Xhosa women, who took a liking to the stiff indigo-dyed fabric, replaced their animal skin clothes with shweshwe. It is said to be named after the sound the skirts make when you walk.

It is now available in three colours (blue, red and brown), two toned, and double sided prints. Its distinguishing characteristics are a repeated geometric pattern, the use of local fora and fauna (and even political figures!) and the trademark logos on the back of the fabric. The characteristic designs are made by patterned copper rollers brushed with a weak acid solution.

Here are some other websites with information about shweshwe
TheWren - The shweshwe story
FreshlyFound - Shwe shwe
Shweshwe lovers - about shweshwe
SouthAfrica Info - Shweshwe
South of the Sahara
Durbana - isishweshwe
And this is definitely not shwe shwe, but I loved all the African prints, used for cushions!

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