R6097/3 Textile; Shweshwe

Blue and white printed cotton shweshwe fabric

Shweshwe (Museum Accession Number R6097/3)

This fabric is called shweshwe, an iconic printed cotton textile that is so popular it has become known as the denim of southern Africa. The name shweshwe is derived from King Moshoeshoe I of Lesotho (c. 1786 – 1870) who first popularised it. It is also known as German cloth after the Swiss and German settlers who imported the cloth to South Africa. The fabric is made by Da Gama, and the ‘Three Cats’ shweshwe brand logo, is stamped on the back of fabric as a mark of authenticity. Although modern shweshwe comes in a variety of bright colours, traditional blue and white designs remain incredibly popular. Collected in South Africa as part of the Fashioning Africa project.

Creator: Da Gama Textiles

Place: South Africa, Southern Africa, Africa

Date: 2018