West African Collections

3 multicoloured pieces of woven fabric

West Africa was home to many different states, kingdoms and cultures. The transatlantic slave trade uprooted people from those homes and took them to foreign lands. Enslaved people left slave ships without any belongings. But they carried with them religion, music and memories of Africa.

West African textiles have always been decorative. During the slave trade, Kente cloth was a highly valued textile. In fact, it's still popular in Ghana today. The bright colours and varied patterns create a strong sense of cultural identity. Our collections include vibrant examples of Kente cloth on display in the galleries.