Anhoek School: Revolutionary Year 222: Course: Class 7


For those who are taking this course in a fixed location with me at helm, we shall meet at 3:45 pm at the DMA. Let us meet at this show: “Saturated” Dye Decorated Cloths from North and West Africa”.

For those who are independently attending to this course from remote locations, here are several other textile museums to integrate into your work if you choose:

If you are in Philly:  If you are in DC:  If you are in London:  If you are in Lima:



“Saturated” Dye Decorated Cloths from North and West Africa”.

“Drawn primarily from the DMA’s collection, this exhibition presents eleven dye-decorated cloths produced by traditional techniques and worn as garments or accessories. Before the introduction of European manufactured printed textiles to Africa in the 19th century, textile designs were made with natural dyes on plain homespun cotton, wool, raffia, or other materials. Women were most often the dyers, and dye-decorated cloth was a major form of feminine artistic expression” – DMA

” In Côte d’Ivoire, women’s political activism has exploited this strong rhetorical form. In 1949, outside the jail in Grand Bassam, women stripped, sang, and ludely danced. In 2002, at the urging of “young patriots” to resist the attack that ignited the civil war, Nanan Kolia Tano, female chief of the Baoulé village of Douakandro, organized five elderly women to execute Adjanou, a “mystical” dance performed in the nude, to ward off the cataclysm. They danced for seven days until rebel soldiers abducted and killed them. Only the chief escaped [4]. In 2003, when the French intervened to broker a coalition government, naked women blocked Dominique de Villepin from exiting the Ivoirian presidential palace and urinated on his car’s wheels [5]. In February 2011 several dozen Adjanou dancers appeared in Treichville to protest “their children’s arbitrary abductions” [6] by Gbagbo’s Republican Guard (Figure 2). They brandished their kodjos (loincloths) to “thrash the enemy.” That month in Yamoussoukro hundreds of kaolin-smeared women occupied the late President Houphouët-Boigny’s residence to perform Adjanou continuously to condemn the deplorable state of the country’s affairs.” According to the organizer, theirs was a “spiritual combat,” conducted in a domain in which “the strength and the power belong to Woman” [7]. ” – Grillo, Laura S“Female Genital Power in Ritual and Politics: Violation and Deployment in Southern Côte d’Ivoire .” Fieldsights – Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology Online, May 14, 2012,

” To go naked or with only a breech cloth was one symptom of madness among the Baule and even casual observers noted the extreme modesty  of men as well as women” …Mona Etienne continues to elucidate the pre-contact use of cloth as both a medium that calibrated gender relations between men and women within Baule culture and cloth as an exchange commodity, used to acquire salt, guns, gunpowder, and captives [Etienne’s term]. After colonization, “women no longer control cloth but are controlled by it.”  from “Women and Men, Cloth and Colonization : The Transformation of Production-Distribution Relations among the Baule”  (Ivory Coast) (1977).

Considering the Grillo excerpt beside the Etienne excerpt, let’s begin to think about the way that the presence and absence of cloth in social space is transformed into political tool.



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