Principally a woman’s garment in Swahili society, kangas are rectangular printed cloths that are worn in matching pairs. They would be wrapped around the waist. Other cloths, leso, are worn like a scarf.
These textiles highlight east Africa’s commercial connection to the wider world. Typically designed in Kenya, produced in India and then sold in the Kenyan and Tanzanian markets. Similar cloths are found in Oman.
The name kanga comes from the guinea-fowl, a bird native to the African continent. This bird has a decorative spotted plumage which adorned the earliest examples of these cloths.
Kangas serve to communicate ideas through inscription, design and how they’re worn. They can be used to convey political ideas, global issues even the personal.
“Mali Ya Mwana Mombasa - Kenya” “D. No. 02032”, sticky labels attached to the cloth include “Made in India” and “Khanga Nzito. Mali Ya Mwama - symbol of quality.”
The firm Kaderdina Hajee Essak was established in 1887. Mali Ya Mwana is a famous product line created by the firm.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Clothing and accessories
Common Name
Simple Name
Production Country
Production Year High

View Full Details

woven cloth (kanga)