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Know the histories of these fascinating textiles

Published: September 2, 2020
Did you know that Kuba cloth inspired some of the 20th century’s most famous artists? Or that chintz from India was once so popular in England that it was literally banned? Get the scoop behind four iconic textiles from around the globe—and check out some of our (shoppable!) favorites.
The word is Indonesian, but versions of the technique—which involves resist-dyeing fibers prior to weaving—have existed for centuries in different regions across the globe.
Kuba Cloth
Made by the Kuba people of central Africa from woven raffia embellished with embroidered or appliquéd patterns, the material inspired artists like Klimt and Matisse.
Roughly translated as “to wring, squeeze, or press,” shibori dates back to at least the 8th century in Japan, when it was used to enhance inexpensive or worn-out textiles.
Indian-made printed cotton was so popular in 17th- and 18th-century Europe that France and England banned its import to protect domestic manufacturing.
While the term comes from Persia (translating to “to spread roughly”) and early examples have been found in China (dating back to the 5th century), kilims from Turkey are the most well-known. Weavers incorporated geometric designs that symbolized everything from luck to fertility.
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