Sierra Leone Traditional Textiles

Sierra Leone, as well as many other West African countries, are known for lapas. This is an African fabric meant to be worn as a wrap while dancing, but also commonly worn anytime. Lapas come in an array of patterns and colors, and its waxed fabric does not fade. Besides the bold use of color, I did not observe any common themes in the lapas; the prints ranged from ostriches to balloons. Many Sierra Leonean women make their own clothing, most often being tie-dyed cloth called garas. Sierra Leone is also known for yappas. At birth, a brightly colored cloth called a yappa is placed on a baby’s back. It appears that bright patterns and colors have always been an important aspect of their culture. However, its interpretation is evolving with the influence of Western culture. Fashion designers in Sierra Leone have incorporated their culture into contemporary silhouettes.

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