Commercial sample of political wax print style fabric depicting President Moïse Tshombe

Manchester, United Kingdom

Date: c.1964-1965

Origin: Manchester, United Kingdom

Dimensions: H 118 x W 89cm

Venue: Gawthorpe Textiles Collection

This cloth was manufactured in Manchester for export to African markets. Depicted in the design is Moïse Tshombe, a Congolese businessman and politician who became president of the Secessionist state of Katanga from 1960 to 1963 and then Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo 1964 to 1965. 

The style of the design draws heavily from traditional, handmade batik and resist dyeing technique. Although it was designed and made in the UK, the companies that produced these prints often held archives of authentic African indigenous textiles they could copy and reinterpret. From the late 19th to mid-20th century the majority of these prints were produced in Europe and sold to markets in Africa. With the independence of many African countries in the 1960s, local manufacturing grew but now these textiles are often manufactured in China. 

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