ISISHWESHWE, a history of the indigenisation of blueprint in southern Africa

: Leeb-du Toit (J.)

R 670.00
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302pp., b/w & colour illus., paperback, Pietermaritzburg, 2017


"This is a wonderful book. Meticulously researched over many years, with a wealth of illustrations, it tells the fascinating story of blueprint cloth as it evolved across three continents, culminating in its remarkable assimilation into the cultural lives of southern African peoples. It is scholarly yet eminently accessible, and presents for the first time the global history of one of eastern and southern Africa's many machine-printed textile traditions, which have been overlooked in the literature for far too long. Truly a landmark publication," Christopher Spring, Curator, Africa, The British Museum and author of "African Textiles Today"

"Leed du Toit has richly contextualised the complex history and shifting cultural meanings of this textile. Along the way, she demonstrates that 'isishweshwe', or blueprint, or 'bloudruk', or 'isijalmani' - diverse names for the cloth that reflect its histories - offers a window onto southern African racial and class structures, technologies, economies and shifting conceptions of people's connections to both local and global cultures. This book has much to offer readers interested in South Africa, in global trade networks, and in the key roles of material culture in the expression of personal and cultural identities." Victoria Rovine, Associate Professor of Art History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of "African Fashion, Global Style: histories, innovations, and ideas you can wear"

Art historian Juliette Leeb-du Toit is currently a research associate at the University of Johannesburg.