What is Ankara? Getting to Know the Fabric Print of Africa

The word “ankara” is used to denote a style of clothing and fabric that prints traditional African designs, colors, patterns, and symbols on cotton using a wax-based process.

You may have heard Ankara referred to by different names, such as “kente cloth”, “african wax print”, “kitenge” or “ankara patterns”. Typically, it all refers to African-centered fabrics, textile, and apparel.

In other words, it may be best to think of ankara as a fashion or style, much the same way we think of “causal” or “chic” as a particular type of dress.

What is Ankara

What Makes “Ankara” Ankara?

We would say that there are multiple components that contribute to the creation of what is called ankara.

Cotton, the material of Ankara

Cotton is the fabric that makes up ankara textiles. For generations, cotton has been grown and used from Egypt to Ghana to Nigeria, and in many more countries throughout Africa. Cotton is widely known for its breathability, comfort, and it ease of accepting dyes and pigments in coloration processes.

The Colors of Ankara

Ankara print fabrics often features colors that are bright, lively, and vibrant. Greens, yellows, blues, reds are regularly incorporated into the print design, with deep tones of brown, orange and black used were inspiration strikes. But the ankara color pallet isn’t limited to just these colors - a plethora of shades, tones, and tints also adds character to the patterning.

The Patterns and Imagery on Ankara

The designs of ankara are frequently ornate but can also take on a basic geometry. They are often representative of African heritages and the African land, evoking a sense of the continent’s unique scenery, the people, and its wildlife.

African Wax Printing

Now, that we have discussed the material, color, and patterns of Ankara, it’s time to bring it all together. And the process of African wax printing does just that.

In the printing stage, natural wax or a synthetic blend is melted onto the fabric along with rich dyes to seal in the design. The result is a stunning pattern and a durable garment.

Ankara Is Our Way

At Tribal Wave, we fully embrace the beauty and spirit of Ankara.

Each of our scrub caps, cloth face masks, and bouffant draw string caps - reflect a reverence of not just the style, but the people ankara represents through and through.

Browse Ankara Products Now!