10 Amazing Tapestries from Africa

A themed wall tapestry is the perfect way to bring a touch of elegance into your home. It can be a conversation starter; it can be a centerpiece that sets the mood for visitors to your home. An African tapestry is a particularly bold feature for your home’s decor. Anyone can put up a poster or a painting. But a large, woven textile design is more than something to hang on your wall. It livens up your living space, helps keep a room warmer (or cooler), and even gives you an opportunity to express yourself.

Insights Into African Art

What is the purpose of African art? Many people assume that all historic African art served some religious purpose, and while that’s certainly sometimes the case, the immense size and diversity of the African continent means it’s foolish to make sweeping generalizations like that.   

African design is deeply rooted in spiritualism. But as scholars and art historians have come to a better understanding of the purposes behind traditional African art forms, we see that (just like everywhere else), African art has served many purposes throughout the years. Many times, art had a functional use in everyday life, which is why textiles and tapestries are common art forms (along with bowls, chairs and tools). These items were often made with great care and love, and they sometimes enhanced the status of the prominent persons who owned them.

For millennia, African culture and history was passed on through sculpture, woven baskets, headdresses, carvings and hand-carved cooking bowls. From sculptures to the war masks used in ceremonial dances, abstract and expressive forms often made reference to the content’s wildlife. Religious significance was a theme, yes, but from prehistoric terracotta figures to handcrafted objects of modern times, African art also reflected status or tribal affiliations. On a continent where art reflects a wide range of ethnic groups, African art and culture are intertwined.

What are some common features of African art? The human figure is a primary subject. In African tribal art (especially masks, sculptures and granite carvings), recurring themes include elongated necks, enlarged heads, pointed breasts, and other dynamic representations of vitality, strength and power. Earthy hues and intricate patterns are common.

Factors to Consider

African decor can be antique and traditional, incorporating both tribal and colonial pieces. It can be inspired by nature, with a safari theme that depicts lions, tigers and rhinoceroses. It can also be contemporary and urban. There’s plenty of room for your own stylistic interpretation; just don’t make the mistake of thinking of the entire continent as a monolithic culture. It’s a patchwork of dynamic, diverse and vibrant ideas and interpretations.

African art, from tapestries to paintings, dance and film, is used to interpret and portray the day-to-day aspects of social and economic life in Africa. This means political upheaval, wars, family and tribe connections, culture and traditions. And always present in these artistic expressions you will find the diverse African beauty, the unique vision that captures real life on the continent.

It’s easy to imagine the sun setting on the Serengeti or vast expanse of the Sahara desert. But Africa is also modern, chic, fashionable and youthful. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the brilliant ideas behind modern African fashion.

Speaking of fashion, what are African patterns called? Patterns called salubata indicate royalty or leadership and often depict intertwining snakes, which are symbols of continuity. African patterns/cloth known as kente are brightly colored, banded and usually identified with the Akan people in West Africa.​

10 Best African (and African-American) Tapestries

Giraffe Tapestry

Who doesn’t love giraffes? This awe-inspiring giraffe tapestry features three giraffes outlined against the amber, yellow and rust evening sky and adds a sense of wonder to any room. Their distant black silhouettes make a stark contrast with the glowing African horizon.

Flamingo Tapestry

This alluring wall hanging presents the bright bird from a perfect angle and makes a lovely accent to any room. Both lesser and greater flamingos are found in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, including Lake Natron in Tanzania, Lake Bogoria National Park in Kenya, and Lake Nakuru, also in Kenya. Even if you are nowhere near the dark continent, our flamingo tapestry will instantly take you there.

Rasta Lion Tapestry

The lion signifies strength, courage, valor and pride, and is connected to Haile Selassie, the Ethiopian emperor worshiped by Rastafarians. The spectacular wall hanging transforms your room into a creative and inspiring space. The eye-catching green, yellow and crimson rasta lion features a black background.

Pineapple Splash Tapestry

Although the fruit is a member of the Bromeliaceae family (which is native to the tropical Americas) pineapples are one of the most important subtropical crops cultivated in South Africa. Calling this an “African tapestry” may be a stretch, but it certainly brings a splash of color and vibrancy to any room.

Coastal Sunset Tapestry

Ancient Egyptians believed that the Sun God Ra emerged from the East at daybreak and returned to the underworld at sunset. With horizons that seem to stretch out forever and a breathtaking kaleidoscope of colors engulfing the sky, an African sunset certainly seems like something created by gods. Relax while admiring the gorgeous view depicted in the Coastal Sunset Tapestry. This eye-catching wall hanging will inspire countless daydreams with its simple palm trees and gentle ocean waves in the background. This tapestry makes a soothing and romantic decoration that evokes. 

Turtle Tapestry

African marine life never ceases to amaze us with its beauty and diversity. Marvel at the natural world from the comfort of your room with a captivating wall hanging featuring turtles swimming through the calming deep blue waters of an ocean getaway.

Dolphins Tapestry

Did you know there are many species of dolphin in African waters, including bottlenoses and spinners? There is a good chance you will see dolphins swimming virtually anywhere off the coast of Africa. This playful wall hanging brings the beauty of marine life into a room and always inspires a sense of wonder. It's soft to the touch and hangs perfectly.

Majestic Elephant Tapestry

The largest animal walking the Earth is the African elephant, which occupies all African habitats from near-desert to closed canopy forest. Over the last few decades, illegal poaching (for ivory) has reduced their numbers greatly. As we face the possible loss of wild elephants this black and white wall hanging inspires us and reminds us why elephants are known as the lord of beginnings, remover of obstacles, and symbols of good fortune.

African Night Forest Tapestry

Don’t forget to look up! This stunning forest tapestry wall hanging provides a magnificent view of black trees beautifully silhouetted under the starlit sky. The breathtaking piece brings the beauty of the outdoors into any room—you might even consider mounting it on the ceiling. The vibrant, vivid color palette and first-class print quality evoke a dreamy mood and a happy wanderlust feeling every time you come home.

African Coast Tapestry

The African continent is encircled by powdery white sand beaches, turquoise waters, rocky outcrops perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. With approximately 18,950 miles (30,500 kilometers) of coastline, there’s a perfect sandy beach somewhere that is waiting for you. Imagine sitting peacefully on an African shore as the tide slowly ebbs and flows in front of you. This design comes in three sizes and makes a perfect addition to any bedroom or living space.

How To Hang A Tapestry

When hanging the tapestry, make sure its focal point is eye-level. That bohemian mandala print just won't have the same effect if visitors to your home have to look down to see it.

If you live in an apartment or dorm room, be careful not to damage your walls. You can usually use velcro or clamps to hang a tapestry if it isn’t too heavy. Heavy tapestries may require wall anchors and wall mounts. Use a decorative rod and wall brackets to hang the tapestry by pushing the rod through the eye sockets of the tapestry and securing it in the brackets on the wall. The last step is securing rod finial to each end of the rod.

If your tapestry doesn’t have eye sockets (holes) and it’s light enough, you may be able to use push pins in the corner of the tapestry. Space the pins a little closer than the length of the tapestry for a nice draped look. If the pins leave small holes in your wall, don’t worry—they’ll be easy to fill in. If you don’t want any holes in the wall (even tiny ones), you may be able to use Command strips or hooks

Of course, if you have an expensive tapestry with historical value, you may want to take a different approach. For preservation purposes, a vintage piece can be framed and mounted. Special glass will help minimize fading. A framed African tapestry wall hanging is more than an adornment in the background of a room. It’s a collector’s item, a conversation piece and an investment.

Additional African Home Design Tips

African tapestries are just the first step on your journey of inspiration in the realm of African interior design. Trust us—once you have a large, colorful design in your household you’ll be inspired to keep going with other decor to match the theme. You can even design an entire room around the right wall hanging. 

Even if you can’t afford authentic African art, you might consenter complementing your new wall hanging with objects d’art might made of cedar, ebony or mahogany, carved dish plates for tropical fruits, stone sculptures, or tribal masks.

Every country in Africa is different—don’t make the mistake of thinking of every culture as having the same look and feel! But generally speaking, African design often means incorporating colorful wallpaper and textiles with inviting, warm earth tones that evoke terracotta, brick and sand. It means contrasting colors with the vibrant yellows, verdant greens and warm reds that evoke remote safari settings. It means contrasting dark and light as you with the right artifacts and earthenware. 

You may want to utilize organic and sustainable materials in your room’s furnishing. Natural materials are a huge part of African art, and eco-friendly materials never go out of style!

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