Saturday, March 3, 2012

Domythic Africa

What a diverse and fascinating continent full of so many different cultures and rich heritages! While it is next to impossible in a single blog post to summarize the wide variety of myth and folklore in such a wide plethora of African countries and cultures, there are a few overall observations I wanted to make.

-Fabric, and the patterns on fabric, are a big part of the mythic story of many African cultures. In particular, Kente Cloth, originating with the Akan people of Ghana, is a sacred cloth of kings, and the woven patterns can tell different stories. Wikipedia has a wonderful summary of what the different colors in Kente cloth symbolize.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Also originating with the Akan of Ghana, Adinkra, usually used on fabric and pottery items, are a series of symbols, not unlike hieroglyphics and other languages of symbols

Image from Wikipedia.

Image from this excellent post by Art in the Studio

Unfortunately, African countries are known for such colorful and beautiful fabrics, they are sometimes "forged" for use in popular cultural items. Like so many details when decorating Domythically, it is important for this reason to get the full story on the fabrics you use in your home.

-I recently read an excellent compilation of African folk tales called The Girl Who Married a Lion. In this book, I discovered many delightful details of folklore in various African countries. I highly recommend it. One thing I noticed in the book is the character of the "trickster hare" that seems to reoccur in different stories. Indeed, it is through the transmission of these tales to America that the character of "Br'er Rabbit" began.

Hooked rug pattern from Etsy seller FullyWoolyPrimitives.

Original art by Suzanne'sGallery.

More information on hares and rabbits in mythology and folklore can be found in this article by Terri Windling.

Two more ideas for decorating in this style, from the book Ethnic Interiors.

If entomology is your hobby, you could display specimens (humanely and/or naturally obtained) from the African continent:

Or if you prefer living plants, choose indoor specimens that mimic those found in African lands, or types that are actually found there:

A final recommended book, for further inspiration in decorating in an African style, is the book African Style: Down to the Details, the source for the rest of these images.

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