Shweshwe is a type of dyed and printed cotton fabric used in traditional South-African clothing. Originally with indigo, it’s now made in variety of colours and designs, featuring intricate geometric patterns. It’s made in a intricate discharge process. First the fabric is dyed entirely, then passed through copper design rollers. The copper rollers emit an acid solution which removes the color with pinpoint accuracy to form the pattern. The use of picotage, tiny pin dots that create designs, texture and depth, is characteristic to shweshwe.

The characteristic fabric has been called the denim, or tartan, of South Africa. Shweshwe is also known as “german print” (sejeremane in Sotho, ujamani in Xhosa) after 19th century german and swiss settlers who imported the Blaudruck fabric.


Blaudruck (german: blueprint) is a resist-dye technique characterised by a white pattern on an indigo blue background, often featuring floral motives. Blaudruck is on the list of intangible cultural heritage in Germany. The technique came to Europe along with the indigo plant with travellers of the Dutch East India Company. The technique was commonly practised across Central Europe in the 18th and 19th century. Traditional skills and recipes are passed on within family businesses  and from one generation to the next. In Germany there are only a few workshops left that produce Blaudruck.


Adinkra are visual symbols that represent concepts or aphorisms, used extensively in fabrics and pottery among the Ashantis in Ghana and Baoulés in Cote D’Ivoire. Adinkra cloth is made by block printing as well as screen printing. The present centre of traditional production of adinkra cloth is Ntɔnso, 20 km northwest of Kumasi.

Block Printing

Block printing is the process of printing patterns by means of engraved wooden blocks.

It is the earliest, simplest and slowest of all methods of textile printing. Block printing by hand is a slow process. It is, however, capable of yielding highly artistic results, some of which are unobtainable by any other method.

Bagh print

Bagh Print is a traditional hand block print with natural colours, an Indian Handicraft practised in Bagh, Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh, India. Its name is derived from the village Bagh on the banks of the Bagh River. Bagh print fabric with replicated geometric and floral compositions with vegetable colours of red and black over a white background is a popular Textile printing product.

Bagh Print, as it is presently known in Madhya Pradesh, was started by the community of Muslim Khatris (they were converts to Islam under the influence of a sufi saint) in 1962 when they migrated from Manawar to Bagh. Their antecedents are traced to Larkana in Sindh (now in Pakistan) from where they shifted base to Marwad in Rajasthan and then to Manawar; the printing technique prevalent in Sind which they practiced is known as Ajrak prints. However, the reasons for their migration from Sindh across the Indus is not clear. They came with their traditional art form of the block printing process and continued at their new place of settlement but with innovations to meet the local trends and practices in the region; this came to be known as Bagh printing as they settled on the banks of the Bagh river in the village of the same name. In this printing technique the cloth used is cotton and silk cloth which are subject to treatment of a blend of corroded iron fillings, alum and Alizarin. The designs are patterned by skilled artisans. On completion of the printing process, the printed fabric is subject to repeated washing in the flowing waters of the river and then dried in the sun for a specific period to obtain the fine luster.

Weaving and hand block printing process with the geometric designs, imaginative use of red and black natural colours and taking advantage of the chemical properties of the river and effective use of colours results in Bagh Prints in a unique art form. The process involves pre-printing, printing and post printing.



Kalamkari, which literally means “pen-worked,” is a multistep process for creating designs. The cloth is first stiffened by being steeped in astringents and buffalo milk and then dried in the sun. The red, black, brown, and violet portions of the designs are outlined with a mordant, and the cloth is placed in a bath of alizarin. The cloth is then covered with wax, except for the parts to be dyed blue, and placed in an indigo bath. Afterwards, the wax is scraped off and the areas to be yellow or pale green are painted by hand.

It is a type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, produced in parts of India and Iran. Its name originates in the Persian ,قلمکار which is derived from the words qalam (pen) and kari (craftmanship), meaning drawing with a pen. Only natural dyes are used in kalamkari and it involves seventeen steps.

There are two distinctive styles of kalamkari art in India – the Srikalahasti style and the Machilipatnam style. The Srikalahasti style of kalamkari, wherein the “kalam” or pen is used for free hand drawing of the subject and filling in the colors, is entirely hand worked. This style flowered around temples and their patronage and so had an almost religious identity – scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners and the like, depicted deities and scenes taken from the Hindu  mythological classics.



Bògòlanfini or bogolan (Bambara: bɔgɔlanfini; “mud cloth”) is a handmade Malian cotton fabric traditionally dyed with fermented mud. It has an important place in traditional Malian culture and has, more recently, become a symbol of Malian cultural identity. The cloth is being exported worldwide for use in fashion, fine art and decoration.

Today, the center of bògòlanfini production, and the source of the highest quality cloth, is the town of San. Traditionally, bògòlanfini production, was done by men weaving the cloth and women dye it. On narrow looms, strips of cotton fabric about 15 cm wide are woven and stitched into cloths about 1 by 5 m long.