This exhibition invites you into the conversation created amongst the Suzani and Kente textiles drawn from the personal collections of Manina Baumann and Evelyn Bertrand. These fabrics are functional and fantastical; decorative secret keepers and storytellers. Both are graceful examples of how ancient crafts can move into the contemporary visual world; Bold beautiful additions to any modern interior and inspiration to all forms of creatives.
When Evelyn Bertrand and Manina Baumann entered the opening night cocktail party of Stephan Welz’s new premises in Claremont in October last year, the two women had never met. By the end of the evening, both the concept for an upcoming exhibition and a firm friendship had been established. Unfortunately, the lockdown prevented the exhibition from happening and the online auction has taken its place. Each woman was wrapped in a colourful shawl. Evelyn wore a Kente cloth from her birth country, Ghana; Manina a silk Suzani from Uzbekistan in Central Asia. Naturally, they were drawn to each other. Both cloths are modern incarnations of traditional textiles from former ancient trade routes. They also represented each woman’s extensive collection and special passion.
Africa is abundant with vibrant colourful cloths, one of the most well-known of these cloths is Kente. Kente is a sacred loincloth, worn for ceremonies and important events, it was developed in the twelfth century by the Asante people and is still present in Ghana today. Although the exact origins of Kente are unknown, one legend recounts the story of two brothers; About 375 years ago, who one day went hunting and came across a spider spinning a web and were inspired to create something similar to it. They returned home and weaved the first cloth out of black and white raffia cloth. Today, Kente is symbolic and representative of the history of the Akan and Ewe people, and Ghana in general. Both Kente and Suzani textiles are made to celebrate life events such as weddings, births, or important social ceremonial occasions.
Suzani is the ancient Persian word for needlework. This traditional female-centered craft represents a history of textile storytelling, pattern sensibility and a unique symbolic language that evolved in Central Asia over the ages and reached the West via the Ancient Silk Road Trade. Silk Suzanis were created over years by the new and prospective brides. They adorned the homes of newly wedded couples with wishes of happiness, fertility, and protection. Suzani also decorated sumptuous palace tents in ancient Samarkand and served as gifts for visiting dignitaries.
The same still applies to Kente to today. In the use of colour, design and symbolic language, each textile reflects the history of its country of origin and is therefore a treasured symbol of national pride. Both Suzani and Kente are created from separate strips that are meticulously sewn together by hand. This is in continuation with the earliest tradition of textile production where textiles were “strip” woven and embroidered, at home or whilst migrating across vast stretches of land.
The creation of these unique handcrafted textiles have survived into our time. Let us pray that they will continue to be crafted in their traditional beauty and be with us for very much longer.
The Suzanis from The Suzani Gallery Cape Town are artworks created since Independence in Uzbekistan and are modern interpretations of priceless antique Suzanis and museum pieces.
Suzani, Ashanti & Ewe Textile Auction – A Woven Friendship | 15 – 26 October 2020
All bidding is done online in a timed auction format on our the-saleroom.com Platform. All lots have reserves and a starting estimate. Bidding concludes Monday 26 October, 9pm SAST. Bids placed within 10 minutes of the end of the auction (from 8:50pm) extend bidding on the selected lot by 10 minutes and again thereafter should another bid be submitted.
All lots available for preview online and strictly by appointment at our Cape Town branch. Please contact us on +27217946461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a condition report or to schedule a preview appointment.
The auction is run through our digital platform on the-saleroom.com. Please view and register through the platform. Contact us for any assistance regarding registration.
For condition reports or any other enquiries please email email@example.com and our relevant department specialist will assist.
The buyer’s premium is calculated at 14% plus VAT at the prevailing rate for items selling above R10 000 and 17% plus VAT for items selling at or below R10 000. All successful lots purchased through our Digital Saleroom will be subject to a 3% transaction fee over and above the calculated buyer’s premium.