How it is made

  • An Atelier Outside of Dakar

    Situated in Rufisque, a small town 30km east from Dakar, the atelier provides space for a large variety of looms used by 100 weaving experts in the Manjack technique, which finds its origins in Guinea-Bissau.

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    Cotton & Raffia

    Abiding by her values of sourcing and producing locally, Aissa ensures that the cotton and raffia is 100% Senegalese and organically grown. It is collected and hand spun in southern Senegal. The raffia is a variant of a palm tree and its fibre is traditionally used for the weaving in West and Central Africa.

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    Dyeing the Threads

    Once they arrive at the workshop, Aissa’s dye specialist Mr Ndoya takes care of the cotton and raffia. With his wide knowledge about plants, he creates new colours everyday. He uses mud collected from the bottom of a lake in northern Senegal to create shades of brown, Haye trees for red and Ngagne plants for indigo.

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    The Loom

    To create broad pieces of hand woven cloth for her creations, Aissa had to develop her own looms because traditionally they were only around 20cm wide. In cooperation with Dakar’s Institute of Technology, she created looms that allowed weaving textiles with a width of 90cm to140cm.

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    Senegal boasts a long history of textile design and the weaving techniques used by Aissa's master weavers are virtually unique in the world today. The loom setup is straightforward and the weaver sits inside a simple four-pole timber frame with a warp stretching out in front of him.

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    The Weaving Technique

    The warp yarns are threaded through multiple sets of heddles that hang in front of the weaver. He controls the shed using his feet-alternating left-right-left to open the shed for each pass of the shuttle.

  • Team Weaving

    The most difficult part of this type of weaving stems from the fact that it requires two people, a Manjack master weaver and a so-called draw boy, who is positioned a few metres up and to the side of the warp. He operates a second set of multiple heddles, working in tandem and coordinating his movements with the master weaver. This technique allows creating elaborate and complex patterns.

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