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Commemorative Cloth (Capulana)

Curated Submission
1986 - 1994
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
196 x 115
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Printed
Gift of Joel Rosenbloom
Textile Museum of T2012.29.7
The capulana, a multifunctional brightly coloured cloth, has been part of Mozambique culture for centuries. In the mid-20th century, these textiles were still woven by women for their own use on simple single-heddle ground looms; later in the century they were completely replaced by imported and local commercially produced capulanas, which are widely available and inexpensive today.
Capulanas are typically purchased by a husband for his wife, and women use them as clothing, headwear, baby carriers and swaddling clothes, and to carry food and other items. Printed in textile factories in Mozambique, capulanas often feature imagery that references the nation’s nature, culture, agriculture, and politics.
The donor purchased this capulana along with several others when he worked in Mozambique in the 1980s and 1990s as a dentist on various health projects in the city of Beira. He travelled extensively and purchased capulanas from all over the country. He sought out pieces that reflected the political and cultural climate of contemporary Mozambique, which was at that time in the midst of shifting from a Marxist to a capitalist system and opening itself up to aid, trade, and cultural exchange with Western nations.
This textile features an image of a leopard. While leopards still exist in much of Mozambique, their presence has been threatened, largely due to illegal poaching for their valuable pelts and excessive hunting of their prey. Though leopards and other large animals remain essential to hunting and safari tourism in East Africa, sustainable, regulated hunting is now encouraged in Mozambique as a way to fund the nation’s conservation strategy. The donor sought out a capulana with an image of a leopard after he saw a woman wearing a similar one and was intrigued by its intense colours.
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