Fabric Files: Uncovering Nsu Bura

vs_detail_16.jpg.420x530_q95_crop_upscaleWe follow a lot of African Inspired Fashion boards on Pinterest, and every so often, our feed is populated with outfits that are made from one specific wax print – you know that one iconic wax print with the geometric circles?

Although, I’ve seen this pattern several times, it’s never really crossed my mind to question it. So, it wasn’t until one particular day after receiving seven outfits consecutively made from this one fabric, that I became intrigued. Why is this print so popular? Who made it? and what does it mean?


What does it mean?

After surveying a handful of friends, here’s what I found:

To Ghanaians, the Fabric is known as Nsu Bura or spelt Nsu Bra (which is Twi for Waterwell). This is due to the fact that ‘when you throw something in a bowl of water, a pool or a well, it turns clockwise creating a circular ripple design’, similar to the one shown on the cloth’.

In Togo, the cloth is known as Target Consulaire Gbédjégan or abbreviated to Gbedze. It refers to the large straw hats worn traditionally by Royalty or market sellers to protect from the sun.

To Nigerians, this design is known as Plaque-Plaque due to the circular shape that reminds them of the vinyl record.


Origins of the Design

01000-03056Nsu Bura was designed in 1936 by Mr Piet Snel, a Dutch fabric designer at Vlisco. The design was derived from a 1926 drawing of a tie dye circle motif .

Vlisco state that although the wax prints are not given names, they rely on customers to name the fabric, which in turn gives fans a sentimental bond to the cloth.

Bull’s Eye, Disc, La Cibe, jolie Couleur, Plaque Plaque, Target, Consulaire, Gbédjégan and Gbedze are other names that the fabric is also known as.

What do you know this fabric as? Feel free to share.


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Follow Akatasia Online’s board Nsu Bura on Pinterest.

by Esi

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