My mother is from Tanzania where it is customary for women to give each other kangas (also known as lessos) as gifts, especially at events such as weddings, send-offs, births etc.
Over the years, my mother has amassed quite a number! Last year while visiting her, I took the opportunity to raid some of her collection, taking photos for inspiration’s sake.
Kangas come in one piece consisting of two matching panels. You may have seen women along the Swahili coast using one panel as a sarong and the other to cover their head and/or shoulders. I often benefit from this when my mother splits her kangas with me. Here’s one I recently received:
Kangas traditionally feature a saying. The one above is fantastic: “We are in love, give us a chance”.
Mama's collection also includes some kitenge (wax print) pieces …
Mixed in with mum’s kangas, are textiles from other parts of the world such as this Indonesian beauty. Given the history of African wax print, it’s no wonder that this piece fits in pretty well.
I’m really excited about The Kanga Book. Find out more about it here.
Images: Lulu Kitololo
- Inspired by Lubaina Himid’s Kanga Paintings and Collage Portraits
- Buy African: Chichia London SS14 – a celebration of kanga and cutting-edge cool
- Inspired: African Touches at the Eclectic Wedding of Zahra and Chris – including hints of manga