What is ankara? What is ankara fabric? Isn’t it the capital of Turkey? It is the capital of Turkey and it is also the name of a popular fabric worn by many Africans. So what is ankara?
Ankara commonly known as “African prints”,”African wax prints” “Holland wax” and “Dutch wax”, is a 100% cotton fabric with vibrant patterns. It is usually a colorful cloth and is primarily associated with Africa because of its tribal-like patterns and motifs.
It is also a very versatile fabric and many items can be made from it such as hats, earrings, blazers, and shoes to name a few. To make ankara an even more versatile fabric, fashion brands and fabric suppliers have manufactured ankara prints on fabrics like chiffon, silk, spandex for clothing such as kaftans, iro and bubas, bathing suits, sports bars, leggings & socks. Ankara print fabrics are made through an Indonesian wax-resist dyeing technique called batik. In this technique, methods are used to “resist” the dye from reaching all the cloth, thereby creating a pattern. The lack of divergence in color intensity helps with the determination of the (front) right and (back) wrong side of the fabric.
Ankara print fabrics are usually sold per yard, 6 yards or 12 yards. The fabric company, product and registration number is printed on the selvage of the fabric, to notify people of the quality and to protect the designs from imitators. The wax fabric can be sorted into categories of quality due to the processes of manufacturing. The colors comply with the local preferences of the costumers. Wax prints can be named after and inspired by personalities, cities, building, sayings, occasions or well-known individuals.Ankara print fabrics can be worn for regular occasions, but many people consider it a formal fabric and it wear it for special occasions. Some people wear it as “asoebi” for special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, balls etc. Asoebi is a Nigerian word and means “clothes of the family”. Family members, relatives and close friends usually dress up in similar attire for a special occasion. Even though ankara fabrics are associated with the African culture, it’s origins are not authentically and wholly African. Dutch wax prints started out as mass-produced imitations of Indonesian batik fabric.It was originally intended for the Indonesian market but found a more enthusiastic market in West Africa, where it became symbols of traditional and high quality fashion. From West Africa, this fabric spread to other parts of Africa and all over the world.