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In the mid-1800s, and on their travels into South Africa, German and Swiss settlers brought with them thick 100% cotton garments dyed in rich indigo colours that they called blaudruck, or blue print. The cotton material was supplied from India and the blue patterns created from natural dye extracted from the Indigofera Tinctoria plant. The plant is indigenous to a number of countries exposed to humid, tropical climates. At some point in history the Sotho royal family was given the material as a gift and it became extremely popular amongst the Basotho and Xhosa people who gradually incorporated it into their traditional dress. Later, a method of producing a synthetic dye was discovered and colours extended to browns and dark reds.
The name Shweshwe originated either from the swishing sound of the material or the fact that King Mashoeshoe wore the material. The Da Gama Textiles factory in King William’s Town owns the rights to manufacture... Show more