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You’ve seen them all around you! They’re in extravagantly whimsical or geometrical shapes and extremely diverse colours. They may not be strictly contemporary, but they still rock the runways across the globe and make their way to the most well-known fashion houses year after year in eye-catching designs. These are the ‘Tribal Prints’.
‘Tribal prints’ is a very broad umbrella for tribal patterns from very small cults and tribes across the global village which have been brought into the mainstream fashion industry by African designers. Interestingly, the patterns that are popular today have over 8,600 years of history. All of these prints involve geometrical shapes and figures, and spirituality and nature become key elements in the design.
Here are 5 tribal inspired prints—
Ikat is an uber mod design, with has a very traditional history. This print has probably the most complicated weaving procedure in the history of handloom. It involves tying and binding of the threads, weaving it into each other, and then wrapping them tightly, leading to unimaginably beautiful patterns once untied. It uses geometric shapes liberally and the patterns differ vastly because of the binding styles and colours. Ikat is found in a lot of traditional textile hubs across the world, some of which are India, Central and Southeast Asia, Japan, Africa and Latin America.
Warli has a very distinct tribal feel to it. It is extensively found in India not only in handpainted artefacts, but also in apparel. The elements are very simple, and yet meaningful. Warli is a depiction of a village location in the form of— and locally known as—stick figures on walls and paintings. However, a deeper look depicts extensive use of circles and triangles, which are a representation of natural elements, the circle representing the sun and the moon, the triangle derived from mountains and trees. It is made using a white pigment, which is traditionally a mixture of rice paste, water, and gum, replaced in modern day garments with normal vegetable dyes.
Ganado has a very familiar look and feel, primarily because of patterns such as diamonds, crosses, bands, and other geometric elements, and the typical pop colours woven into it. Ganado design has a very rustic feel to it, and hence, is locally known as ‘tribal print.’ Ganado comes from the Anglo-American culture of the Navajos and Caucasus weavers a fact that is evident from their strong influences in its design. In that sense, they are quite like Chinle prints, which are also inspired by Navajo designs but have their origins in the Red Indian tribes situated in Arizona, and hence more colourful.
Batik is a word derived from the Javanese word for tattooing—the art of writing or putting dots. Batik is both an art and a craft and boasts of a 2000-year old blended history from countries from the East, Middle East, Central Asia and India. It is an art which is uses the techniques of waxing, dyeing, and stamping. This print is extremely famous in India, especially in Gujarat.
Aztec is a print that is derived from the lives of the nomad tribes of Central Mexico. The history of this print goes back to the 14th century. This tribe used a language called Nahuatl and in that language aztecah meant “people from Aztlan”. Aztec generally includes a lot of geometric patterns especially triangles, stripes and zig-zag lines. This print is being raved about in the fashion industry all over the world.
Well, well! So here’s your guide to tribal prints so go ahead, explore and choose your favourite print to give yourself a hip look and break the grid.