African Wax Prints also known as Ankara and Dutch wax prints are omnipresent and common materials for clothing in Africa, especially West Africa. They are industrially produced, colorful cotton cloths with batik-inspired printing. One feature of these materials is the lack of difference in the color intensity of front and back side. The wax fabric can be sorted into categories of quality due to the processes of manufacturing.
The wax prints are part of a nonverbal way of communication among African women, and hereby they carry their message out into the world. Some wax prints can be named after personalities, cities, building, sayings or occasions. The producer, name of the product and registration number of the design is printed on the selvage, protecting the design and allowing reading the quality of the fabric. The wax fabrics constitute capital goods for the African women. Therefore, they are collected depending on the financial possibilities.
Normally, the fabrics are sold in 12 yards as "full piece" or 6 yards as "half piece". The colors comply with the local preferences of the customers. Mainly clothing for celebrations is made out of these.
In Nigeria, Ankara is being used to the fullest in the making of clothes, bags, shoes, bangles etc. it is a dominant fabric not only in the culture but also in style. Ankara is recognized in Nigeria as well as other countries.
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