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AFEVO Home HandWeave of the Ewe - BLAKHUD Ewe Kente collection > INTRO


Dale Massiasta
Blakhud Research Center

Before April 2001, when Luciano Ghersi, Weaver of the Century, enrolled at the Black Humanity Development Research (Blakhud) Centre in Klikor to study the Ewe loom and kete, many students in Ghanaian training colleges and universities especially had studied under me kete weaving in general, touching on warp-making, designing kete, marketing and the history of traditional handicrafts. Most students were then interested in the yarn industry, the most lucrative local business area. But where the bustles of the few kete markets attract socio-economic value studies of traditional handicrafts, so little has been devoted to the study of the great handweavers and their products, the significance of the designs, motifs and quality. Nothing has been studied about the cloths that recorded history or even made history. Most of these student-study projects ended up on the dirty shelves. They were essentially academic exercises with very little impact on promoting traditional handweaving. None of these students had actually sat in a loom.

However, the Afevo probed of Luciano Ghersi, the result of his experiences in Klikor, from my point of view, is aimed at redefining the importance of such exercises in practical and preserving ways. To promote the art, it is also necessary to disseminate information on the different aspects of handweaving techniques, cloth designs and image representations. There is this salient realization in Luciano's project that kete is not only to be worn as fashion, appreciated and admired, but is also to be fitted into the social fabric of cultural identity, an expanding history, a barrier-breaking phenomenon with potentials for adoptions and adaptions In other cultures. Luciano's other objective is to create the spectrum for the larger world of Afevo, to introduce what is essentially quality to other domains of art. So that kete can also speak Italian or German to be understood by Italians or Germans. In Nigeria, for example, it speaks both Yoruba and Ewe, where Ewe handweavers there are producing culture barrier-breaking products. A few of these products form part of this project collection. Luciano may, however, be compelled to investigate the field further in Nigeria among Ewe handweavers there. His present task of documenting Afevo meaningfully Will certainly lead to this field.

Luciano's first task is to create e web-site for his special field, Afevo and draw the world's attention to this ancient Ewe art. This is possibly miles ahead of my own personal efforts to preserve a "dying art among the Ewe at home". For the sake of recapturing the moments of my own involvement in the art between 1965 and 1978, when I hanged my heddles and reeds, I kept a few kete warp-making tools, kete pieces or samples in the Blakhud Museum. And these include damaged or mouse-gnawed shuttles and reeds, a tedious warp-making apparatus (KOKLOE), some Afevo pieces, etc. I am, however, proud of a soiled one-foot long piece of a grandfather who died in 1942 and reincarnated in me! This piece was probably woven in 1910. But how careless I had been in 1989 to accidentally burn my father's AFA oracular bag made with some pieces of my first kete cloth woven in 1985. Earlier in 1979, I had not realized the importance of bringing back to Klikor heddles and reeds my father used in exile in Togo in 1953. For several months that I had stayed in Agoenyive in Togo in 1978-1979, I had seen my fathers heddles and reeds hang on a wall of the hut in which he had lived in Agoenyive for the three years of exile. Returning In 1980 to plunge into writing about politics and literature, memories of the great art of weaving were only temporarily revived when the students mentioned earlier sought my help to write their long essays on traditional strip-cloth weaving. Luciano was to revive my memories of the art that dates from the origins of time.

The 1940s and 1950s especially was a period In which both the performing arts and kete weaving as a handicraft achieved their greatest popularity and promotion. There was the music competitions of rival drumming groups, which ordered Afevo kete in particular for various purposes. New songs had to be translated in cloth images, the invincibility of performing groups had to be depicted in cloth designs. Particular types of cloths had to be used to outdoor new groups, and the more expensive or less expensive ones would determine a hard-working group or a less hard- working one. There was also the shrine festivals highlighted by drumming and dancing. The initiates must display their wealth of intricately woven Afevo, of beads and of jewelry. the art of weaving was at its best during the period. No doubt that my father, Lumor Azameti, had a loom in Togo after running away from the Land Poll crisis of 1953. I visited him as an eight-month-old baby.

The Afevo in particular was then a sacred cloth. Its quality was protected because it was what the weaver himself/herself could preserve and cherish among his/her treasures of kete. (Any other could be dumped in the market). Its meaning and purpose must be assessed by other connoisseurs. It was in it that the quality and design of the warp was emphasized, that the images depicted could be read and understood. It was In the Afevo that the appearance of both the warp and weft mattered. It was in it that rules were established: the cloth must not fade, it must be worn comfortably, it must have e message, a story, a proverb, an occasion. Even if it was plain weave, the motif, the combination of warp colors must be attractive enough to conjure a name, to fit into an occasion. The quality must create the name of the cloth: Oh what a cloth! I just envy its imposing and attracting character! "Woha TSI NATA", that is, "You also make it and wear" is a reply from the cautious wearer and weaver. Yes TSINATA, the cloth, become a favourite of the Ewe students of the then Achimota College, Accra, whose imported sandals also became ACHIMOTA SANDALS. The cloth, TSINATA, an Afevo, takes the name of ACHIMOTA to this day.

Luciano also takes up this task of cataloguing the names of the cloths and the meanings behind the common images and symbols in the cloths. I presently have an old silk cloth - an Afevo because of its quality, refinery, art and wearer - which has an image of a covered calabash put on a stool. The symbolism of this image may appear simple enough. But here, a whole religion is embossed in art, in a strip or stole of cloth. Therefore, Luciano has not only joined the great guild of kete weavers, but he has also embarked on the task of unfurling the mystic meanings of religious symbols, the solemnity of the sacrifices, practices and the liturgies embossed in fabric. Afevo in particular is a surviving testimony of the culture and history of the Ewe people.

Dale Massiasta
Blakhud Research Centre
Klikor, February 2002

Luciano Kwame Ghersi
Research Assistant
Blakhud Research Center

The weaver Solakpa A. Fiamavor Azameti
with one of his
Anyievo cloths (see also: 065)
Klikor, Nov. 2001

Introduction to AFEVO CATALOG

"AFEVO: Home Handweave of the Ewe" is a research focused on the textile collection of the Blakhud Museum of Klikor (V/R, Ghana). These albums are a step of the AFEVO project, that's active since April 2001.
The first step of AFEVO was performed by many traditional kete-weavers of Klikor, who decided to donate samples of their own cloth to Blakhud Museum.
Exactly 100 pieces were listed, simply following the number of their own digital photo. Cloth name, weaver's name, year of production, meaning and history were also recorded, when possible. All the photos and informations about the 100 pieces were immediately uploaded on Internet at the Web URL . Images of a detail of each piece were also put on-line. Images of back-sides were only uploaded when interesting.
The most peculiar web-publishing of AFEVO is probably the
VIRTUAL-STITCH TOUR: that gives a survey of the cloths as they were stitched together. That's indeed the real target of any kete weaving, as the rytme of these woven strips is fully displayed only when "Single becomes Pattern." So that, beyond any value in visual or cyber arts, this "Virtual Stitch Tour" may also be a suggestion to recognise links between weaving, music, dance and (obviously) religion in Ewe culture...

The whole AFEVO web-site is also available in the AFEVO CD-rom, that was presented at the first world AFEVO exhibition. This anti-prèmière exhibition, together with performances of kete weaving, happened at the yearly convention of handweaving "Filo lungo Filo", held in Italy (Leumann, TO) on Sept - Oct. 2001 (reported on

The AFEVO project is also reported on "TessereAmano", the italian magazine of hand-weaving (Nr. 3/2001,
AFEVO is also quoted on Jacquard , the magazine of Lisio Foundation of Silk Art - Florence (Nr. 47/2001). The first course of kete-weaving in Italy was held at the same Lisio Foundation on Oct. 2001 (see at:

These albums contain the 100 formerly listed pieces and also furtherly collected pieces. The whole description of each piece is here still missing, as, before printing, it requires to be revised by Dale Massiasta, Director of Blakhud Research Center. Some prints of previous AFEVO Web-pages are here given as an example.

Further steps of the AFEVO projet will be:

  • the detailed analysis of the cloths the description of different tecniques
  • a glossary of the Ewe terms of weaving,
  • the substitution of the previous Web- and CD-rom images by more definited scanned images
  • the publishing of a book as catalogue of
  • the first whole exhibition of "AFEVO: Home Handweave of the Ewe".

Luciano Kwame Ghersi
Weaver of the Century
Klikor, Nov. 2001

AFEVO Celebration at Blakhud Museum
Director Dale Massiasta, HM Togbui Addo VIII of Klikor,
Eva Aku Basile, Luciano Kwame Ghersi
Klikor, Nov. 18th 2001