The irresistible style that the Ankara fabric breathes to an outfit is undeniable. People know African prints for their intricate composition of designs that portray our culture, but is it really? Majority of us think its roots began in West Africa and spread across the continent over the years. We would hate to bust your burble but it actually originated from the Dutch. Below we have provided a brief history of the Ankara fabric.
Although its exact origin is unclear, archeologists discovered the originally known batiks in Egyptian tombs dating back to the 4th century. Certainly, different cultures throughout the early world independently developed wax-resist techniques.
For instance, through the seventh century AD, the practice of patterning fabric using wax had spread widely throughout Asia, India, Japan and Africa. Moreover, in Indonesia, the practice became fully developed as an art. T
he Europeans were the first to learn about this art. Furthermore, Dutch and Indonesian archaeologists Jan Laurens Andries Brandes and F.A. Sutjipto respectively, assert that Indonesian batik is a native tradition. Besides, there is sufficient evidence that several regions in Indonesia such as Toraja, Flores, and Halmahera have been practicing batik making for years.
Traditional Indonesian Batik pattern
For sure, after colonizing Indonesia, the Dutch became familiar with the batik technique. Some of the Dutch then sent the patterns to the textile factories in the Netherlands to Jean Baptiste Theodore Previnaire and Pieter Fentener van Vlissingen. These two individuals developed a machine printing process that could imitate batik.
They forecasted that their much cheaper machine-made batik imitations could outcompete the original batiks in the Indonesian market. Consequently, and unluckily, their batik version unsuccessfully penetrated the market because it lacked the distinctive wax smell of the original fabric.
However, in the 1880s the batik experienced a strong reception in West Africa when Dutch and Scottish trading vessels introduced the fabrics in those ports. Indeed, the initial demand was by the West Africans recruited between 1831 and 1872 from the Dutch Gold Coast to serve in the Dutch colonializing army.
The success of the trade in West Africa prompted the Dutch wax prints to quickly establish themselves into African apparel to meet the demand. As a result, they established their companies under the names Veritable Dutch Hollandais, and Wax Hollandais