Shweshwe

DyeingPrinting

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.