Ankara, also known as Dutch wax prints or African wax prints, is a type of brightly colored cotton fabric that is traditionally used in West Africa. The history of African Ankara fabrics can be traced back to the 19th century, when the Dutch began importing Indonesian batik fabrics to West Africa. The batik fabrics were very popular in West Africa, but they were expensive and difficult to obtain.
In the early 20th century, a Belgian entrepreneur, named Pieter Fentener van Vlissingen, started a factory in the Netherlands that produced mass-produced versions of the batik fabrics, which he called “wax prints.” These wax prints were cheaper and more widely available than the traditional Indonesian batiks, and they quickly became popular in West Africa.
The African Ankara fabrics quickly became a symbol of African identity and culture, and they were used to make traditional clothing, such as the Kente and the Dashiki. The fabrics were also used to make everyday clothing and household items.
Over time, African designers began to incorporate their own designs and patterns into the fabrics, creating a unique blend of African and Dutch influence. Today, African Ankara fabrics are not only popular in West Africa but also around the globe, and they have become an important part of African fashion and culture.
It’s worth noting that, today, many African countries have their own textile industries and produce their own African Ankara fabrics, such as Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.