‘Each pagne has a name with the ability to broadcast images about power and politics, beauty and wealth, or about the joyful and complex relations between men and women.’ NS 2
‘In francophone West Africa, this cloth is referred to as pagne. It is central to women’s clothing and self-making…this type of cloth, it is often said that a woman’s life can be read through the pages she accumulates over the course of a lifetime.’ NS 2
‘Most African women cannot afford to wear wax print every day. But depending on personal means, there is an exception: the ubiquitous pagne. This 2 yard length of fabric is simply tied around the waist so that it covers the legs from hip to ankle. For everyday wear, it complements a Western blouse or T-shirt. The pagne is comfortable, functional and always in fashion. For many women, wax print may be displaced by the cheaper fancy print as the fabric of necessity. In either case, even though the pagne may be old and well worn, it will always be meticulously laundered.
The pagne can also be part of a more formal ensemble, especially in francophone Africa, where elegance is almost a vocation. On top, there are three options: a long, loose-fitting over-garment called a ndoket; a loose marinière; or a tighter-fitting blouse with a low neck, hip flounce and wide sleeves called a taille basse. A matching head-tie, of course, is the finishing touch.’ MR RI 38
Relph, Magie and Irwin, Robert. 2010. “African Wax Print: A Textile Journey”. Words and Pixels. MR & RI
Sylvanus, Nina. 2016. “Patterns in Circulation: Cloth, Gender & Materiality in West Africa”. The University of Chicago. NS
Images and Illustrations — Judith Gueyfier