Batik has been around for centuries, in lands as diverse as Japan, India, and Egypt. As an art form that grew and thrived in multiple cultures before the time of recorded history, it is impossible to trace its direct origins, but there is no doubt about its popularity in West Africa today. Textiles have long played an important role in many African cultures, often carrying with them symbolic meaning, communicating social cues, and being used ceremonially. Batik gained popularity in the region as early as the sixteenth century, when Dutch soldiers and tradesmen brought the fabrics from Indonesia, introducing them into coastal markets. Once there, the cloth spread inland and quickly became assimilated into local cultures, which then influenced the patterns being produced and made the fabric their own.
A few years ago, my family and I returned to the small village in Togo, West Africa, where I met my husband. The trip was quite an adventure for all of us, but especially my 11 year old daughter and my 8 year old son. We flew into Accra, the capital of Ghana, and since our village is right on the Togo/Ghana border, we decided to borrow a car and drive to Togo. Continue reading