Thiès tapestry-making, Thiès, Senegal - Photography by Will Adams
On my recent visit to Senegal, one of the four city tour was in Thiès; home of Manufactures Sénégalaises des Arts Décoratifs.
Nestled in Senegal, Thiès is renowned for its tapestry-making heritage, dating back to 1966 under President Senghor's leadership. These vibrant tapestries, adorned with designs sourced from a global array of artists, including the distinguished Black American artist Melvin Edwards, are a testament to Thiès' commitment to cross-cultural artistic expression.
Wandering through Thiès' streets, you'll encounter these tapestries adorning walls and spaces, each a vivid symbol of unity and diversity. Thiès' legacy as a hub for creative collaboration continues to shine, reminding us of the power of art to transcend borders and forge connections between cultures.
Each design is first drawn in reverse, then enlarged and color coded. This large piece of paper is placed in the loom for the weavers to follow. The weaving is done on manual looms with two weavers completing about 1 sq. meter per month. Only eight tapestries are made of each design.
Extremely expensive, most of the tapestries produced in Thiès are exquisite gifts from Senegal to esteemed foreign dignitaries and institutions around the world. The city's artistry has found its way into prestigious locations like Atlanta Airport, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and even Buckingham Palace, where these masterpieces adorn walls and spaces, symbolizing the deep cultural exchange between Senegal and the international community. Notable figures such as Bill Clinton and George Bush have been honored to receive these stunning tapestries, showcasing the city's commitment to sharing its rich artistic heritage with the global stage.
This is an interesting fact that I never thought about until my visit to the continent of Africa; its size in comparison to what's considered the most powerful regions of the world. Take a look at this map that was created to show the true scale of the land mass.