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Bark Cloth: Tradition and Innovative Ideas – A Merger of the African and European Culture

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2006 14 Pages

Didactics - English - Applied Geography

Excerpt

Table of contents

1. Introduction
1.1 Uganda
1.2 The joint- venture between Bark Cloth Germany and Uganda

2. Bark Cloth
2.1 Working process
2.2 Natural dyes from plants
2.3 Important production factors which influence the bark cloth quality

3. The co-operation
3.1 Connections through the cloth
3.2 The way to Germany

4. Finished Product
4.1 Furniture and Hometex
4.2 Clothes and Accessories
4.3 Price

5. Conclusion

6. Bibliography

7. Affidavit

1. Introduction

1.1 Uganda

Uganda is a country in eastern Africa. It has a population of 27,269,482 people and a total area of 236,040 sq km.

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Picture 1: Uganda

1.2 The joint- venture between Bark Cloth Germany and Uganda

In 1999 a small German company started doing business with a bark cloth and founded a joint-venture between Bark Cloth Oliver Heinz Germany and Bark Cloth Ltd. in Uganda. The company buys a bark cloth from local producers, exports it to Germany and tries to develop a market for this yet unknown material.

In the next chapters I’d like to describe in detail the way from a raw material to a finished product.

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Picture 2: Natural Bark Cloth Picture 3: A chair by a designer Rolf Benz

2. Bark Cloth

“At the beginning there was a cloth from the trees: BARK CLOTH® .

BARK CLOTH® is a bast fleece, a direct ancestor of today’s non-woven. It is the world’s most archaic textile. The cloth is made from Ugandan Ficus trees and each cloth is unique. It has come into being through a traditional hand processing which is an ex- tremely intensive labour. BARK CLOTH® has been used for ages by the kings of “Buganda Kingdom” for ceremonial purposes. Depending on light conditions and angle of view this “living” organic cloth changes from the soft but robust charm of leather to the translucent and graceful lightness of filmy fleeces. The cloth’s lure is its unique structure, the game between dense three-dimensional surface and transparent charac- ter”.1

From this traditional natural material you can get modern merchandise. At first I’d like to describe the working process, then the process of dyeing and finally the important factors, which influence the quality of Bark Cloth.

2.1 Working Process

A tree which is most widely used in manufacturing of Bark Cloth in Uganda, as elsewhere, is a species of fig, Ficus natalensis! After planting the stakes of ficus natalenses, it will take about 3 to 5 years before the bark can be harvested for the first time. After the first harvest, once a year, the tree has to be debarked.

First of all the outer bark layer is scrapped off. Then two incisions are then connected by one vertical incision. A sharpened banana stalk is pushed under the bark to (picture 4) remove it from the cambium. The bark is removed in this way from about half of the stem and then is carefully pulled off by hand (picture 5).

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Picture 4 Picture 5

pounding. The bark is pounded by means of wooden mallets (fig. 6).

This process involves a complex sequence of folding and turning of the bark. First, the whole bark is pounded from one end to another one, and then it is turned around and the process is repeated. As a result of the continuous pounding process the bark becomes soft and flexible and slowly evolves into a thin Bark Cloth.

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Picture 6: A wooden mallet

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Picture 7: The pounding process

After the pounding process, the cloth dries in the sun to get a straight structure (fig. 8). The cloth gets dry in the sun and acquires different colours.

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Picture 8

Here a sample of Bark Cloth!

2.2 Natural Dyes from plants

Natural dyes are manufactured from plants commonly grown in Uganda, mostly in the west of the country.

For example, Curcuma dyes the bark cloth into a yellow colour. “Here is a little Instruction for the dying process (picture 9, 10):

- First, boil the water.

-Second, add the pounded roots of Curcuma and then put into the water the socked material. Continue boiling this mixture until the material turns yellow. x Next, remove the material out of the water and allow it to oxidise for 40min to 1h.

-Finally, wash the material and leave it in the shadow to dry itself.

Natural Dyeing has many advantages. It is:

- environmentally friendly,
- economically viable,
- socially and culturally accepted,
- politically accepted”2.

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Picture 9: dyeing process

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Picture 10: Bark Cloth processed by a natural dye

[...]


1 See: www.barkloth.biz. Retrieved Nov.12.2005 After being harvested the bark is boiled shortly and then brought to a work shed for the

2 See:Reizenstein von, Eckard (2003). Management of ficus natalensis in southwestern Uganda for the Production of high-quality barkcloth. Freiburg im Breisgau/ Germany: Diplom-Thesis.

Details

Pages
14
Year
2006
ISBN (eBook)
9783638001724
File size
720 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v83976
Institution / College
Nürtingen University
Grade
1,3
Tags
Bark Cloth Tradition Innovative Ideas Merger African European Culture Hauptseminar Englisch

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Title: Bark Cloth: Tradition and Innovative Ideas – A Merger of the African and European Culture