Ankara – African Waxes

Contemporary Dresss using Ankara fabric (Aso-ebi)

Contemporary Dress using Ankara fabric (Aso-ebi)

What is Ankara?

Ankara are vibrant patterns of very rich colorful designs. It is mostly made of 100% cotton or cotton poly material.  Originally the wax resist dyed fabrics were exported to the Gold Coast and spread over West Africa into Central Africa and were largely produced in Nigeria.  They became extremely popular over time and were initially worn as every day casual outfits customized to suit the designs of the person wearing it. Nowadays they are primarily made in Ghana and have a strong cultural, social and economic importance.

Uses for Ankara (African Wax)

Africans are very creative and use these bold, festive fabrics to tell stories, poems and traditional African tales. Depending on the pattern of the design a specific name is given for example you will often hear people refer to the different design names like star, concord, shell, etc.

The cotton fabric used for Ankara is cool and durable and can be worn in various styles. African waxes are commonly worn in parties, weddings and other similar African occasions as aso-ebi. This is a Yoruba phrase for family cloth. The custom in Nigeria was for people from the same family to wear the same cloth to show you belong to a certain family. Now it can be worn as a uniform for the same group of friends in a party or more commonly in African Weddings. The blend of colors in these events makes it vibrant, fun and celebratory.

To wash this fabric it is advisable to hand wash or dry clean.

African Contemporary Dresss (Ankara fabric)

African Contemporary Dress (Ankara fabric)

We offer special rates for clients who wish to purchase African material (Ankara) as aso-ebi. So please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Woodin is another type of wax material which has become quite popular over the last few years.

Holland wax (Hollandis) is very similar to Ankara but is commonly made in Holland and is a copy of Ankara.  Ankara is gernearly better quality than Holland wax and is more authentic.  African Clothes Store stock both Hollandis and Ankara contact us to find out more.

What’s Next?

Please contact us if you would like a customized aso-oke design or for general information.

Take a look at our range of traditional African Clothing in our online store

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5 Responses to “Ankara – African Waxes”

  1. Sam Suk says:

    thanks for this. its a great read

  2. shi says:

    i disagree with you ankara wasn’t from ghana, that word ankara is a yoruba word so get ur fact right if go and do ur research well u will know is from gold coast.

  3. Shirly Wang says:

    Wonderful African wax prints from Binzhou Group Co.,Ltd (China), please contact:
    Shirly Wang
    86-543-388 8282

  4. buki says:

    Hello shi. Thanks for your comments.

    You’re right, “ankara” is the word used by Yoruba speakers when referring to printed wax, but it didn’t originate from Yoruba land. Depending on which source you choose to believe “tie and die” methods were actually imported to West Africa from Indonesia, but Africans have since adapted it to make it particularly their own.

    The Yoruba tie and dye clothes are known as Adire, which originated in the Abeokuta area. It is not the same as the more popular Ankara, which is produced in other parts of West Africa (in particular, Ghana) or Holland.

    Hope this has been helpful!!

  5. buki says:

    Please email us your sample.

    Thank you.


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