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2008/59/16 Blanket (khasa), wool / cotton, handwoven by a Fulani man, Mali, 1950-1966. Click to enlarge.

Fulani blanket or khasa from Mali, West Africa

Made
This blanket or khasa, woven by a Fulani man from Mali in West Africa during the 1950s or 1960s, is part of a collection of West African textiles collected by Dr C Marion Petrie. Dr Petrie was an employee of the British Colonial Service in Nigeria and Ghana between 1957 and 1966. It was purchased by her in Zaria in northern Nigeria.

Many of the Fulani people of Northern Nigeria are pastoral nomads. During the winter months of November to January, Fulani cattle herders (Wodaabe) need protection from the cold, as well as from mosquitoes. These blankets were produced to meet this need. After being used by the Fulani herders, most of the blankets are sold to traders, after which they are repaired and traded throughout other areas of West Africa. Consequently there are numerous second hand khasa like this example in existence today. The Ashanti use these second hand Fulani blankets as a status symbol, for example to cover their drums, as they don't need blankets in their warm climate.

The khasa was manufactured on a men's double-heddle loom, probably by a hereditary male Maboube weaver. The cloth consists of six narrow strips of fabric, which were then sewn together to make the blanket. The materials are sheep's wool, and possibly cotton, handspun and hand dyed by Fulani women and sold by them in the market place. Blankets like this were only made when commissioned by a Fulani man, who would have been responsible for buying the yarns required and arranging for the warp to be prepared for the weaver. The background of the cloth is a natural cream wool colour, while the supplementary wefts are largely black, with the occasionally red and yellow. Towards each end of the cloth is a red weft stripe with white supplementary weft pattern motifs incorporated into it. Patterns included in the design are lines, spots, triangles, lozenges and chevrons which depict Fulani myths and pastoral life symbolically. The blanket, like all Fulani blankets, is very heavy.

Khasa were important to the Fulani nomads, who depended on their weight and thickness for protection against the elements. While blankets such as this are by no means rare (being traded second hand throughout West Africa), they nonetheless have considerable historical and cultural significance. This example is characteristic of higher quality Fulani blankets, as evident in the inclusion of a several different colours and the range of design elements. Cheaper khasa are plain white.

Summary

Object No.

2008/59/16

Object Statement

Blanket (khasa), wool / cotton, handwoven by a Fulani man, Mali, 1950-1966

Physical Description

Blanket (khasa), wool / cotton, handwoven by a Fulani man, Mali, 1950-1966

Handwoven Fulani blanket or khasa, made from wool and possibly cotton and constructed from six narrow pieces of cloth. The background of the cloth is a natural cream wool colour, while the supplementary wefts are largely black, with the occasional red and yellow. Towards the ends of the cloth are red weft-wise stripes, with a small white supplementary weft pattern motif incorporated into it. The design is geometric and includes lines, spots, triangles, lozenges and chevrons.

Dimensions

Width

1270 mm

Production

Made

Notes

Handwoven Fulani blanket or khasa, produced by a Fulani man from Mali. The blanket is made from wool, and possibly cotton, and is constructed from six narrow pieces of cloth. It is decorated with geometric supplemetnary weft patterning and warp stripes.

The fabric for the blanket was produced on a men's double-heddle loom, the long strips of which were sewn together to form the whole. Known as a khasa, the blanket was woven with handspun sheep's wool, and possibly cotton, by hereditary Maboube weavers. Like all Fulani blankets, it is very heavy. The wool and cotton used to make blankets like this were handspun and hand dyed by Fulani women, and sold in the market place. Such blankets were only made when required by a Fulani man, and he would have bought the yarns himself, and arranged for the warp to be prepared for the weaving to begin.

The khasa blanket is more elaborate than the cheaper plain white blankets generally made by Fulani men. While black is the most common colour used for decoration, this blanket has elaborate supplementary weft patterns in black, red, yellow and white. Patterns included into the geometric design of the blanket are lines, spots, triangles, lozenges and chevrons that depict Fulani myths and pastoral life symbolically.

Because the patterns on this cloth were created on the weft, great care was needed by the weaver to ensure that the stripes and patterns all matched up. This proper spacing was guaranteed by the weaver by using his finger, hand or a traditional measuring rod.

History

Notes

This khasa blanket was produced by a male Fulani weaver, on a men's double-heddle loom, during the 1950's or 1960's. This blanket was created by sewing together six narrow woven strips. It was purchased by the donor in Zaria, in northern Nigeria.

Many of the Fulani people of Northern Nigeria are pastoral nomads. During November to January, Fulani cattle herders (Wodaabe) need protection from the cold and mosquitoes. Thus, this "khasa" blanket was produced for the Fulani nomads in order to keep out the elements.

After being used by the Fulani people during the winter months, the majority of "khasa" blankets are sold to traders in spring, where they are repaired and then traded throughout other areas of West Africa. Thus, there are many second hand khasa blankets such as this one in existence today. The Ashanti use the second hand khasa blankets as a symbol of their status and wealth, for example, to cover drums, though they don't need to use the blankets in their warm climate.

This blanket is part of a collection of 33 objects, consisting of West African textiles, spindles, hand spun yarn and a thorn carving, which were collected in West Africa between 1957 and 1966 by Dr C. Marion Petrie. Dr Petrie was employed by the British Colonial Service in government and university posts in various towns in Nigeria and Ghana. She collected textiles and other items for her own enjoyment in markets and from traders. These objects were subsequently donated to The National Textile Museum of Australia by the family of Dr C.M.Petrie on January 2 1999. On the closing of The National Textile Museum of Australia, the collection was transferred to the Powerhouse Museum by Ms Maureen Holbrook.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of C M Petrie, 1998; transferred from National Textile Museum of Australia, 2008

Acquisition Date

25 March 2008

Cite this Object

Harvard

Fulani blanket or khasa from Mali, West Africa 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 September 2020, <https://ma.as/371553>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/371553 |title=Fulani blanket or khasa from Mali, West Africa |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.