Gbekembe dresses are made with 100% cotton wax print and batik fabrics. The technique used to create the vibrant prints on the fabric–resist dyeing–has been very widely used in Eurasia and Africa since Antiquity. The first discoveries of this type of cloth were pieces of linen used in the mummification process dating back to fourth century Egypt. The cloth was first soaked in wax, next the design was scratched onto the cloth with a sharp stylus, dyed and later washed in hot water to remove the wax. The modern equivalent is most closely tied with the batik-making technique used by Indonesia’s Javanese people in the 17th century. This technique eventually traveled to West Africa via English and Dutch traders and became known as “Dutch” wax. West Africans further adapted the technique using bigger images and bolder lines representing their culture and social life.
This complicated process produces extremely wearable fabrics that resist fading and shrinkage. To extend the life of your garment, we recommend machine washing, gentle cycle, in cold water and line drying or tumble drying on a low setting.