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Traditional Cameroonian fabrics: Ndop and Toghu

Ndop Toghu traditional Bamileke fabric


Visit traditional Cameroonian fabric is of paramount importance in human culture. It is used to express personal identity as well as to represent religious and artistic aspects. Fabrics can be used in a variety of ways to communicate a specific message or meaning.

The traditional fabrics are often used to affirm the identity of a specific person or group. For example, certain ethnic groups may wear clothing made from a specific type of weaving that is unique to their culture. These garments express their identity, which is collectively recognized by other members of the ethnic group in question.

The Bamileke symbols

Visit Bamiléké people wear a wide variety of costumes, whether skin, woven or beaded. Beaded or cowrie-decorated garments are generally reserved for chiefs, secret societies or traditional customs. Beads symbolize wealth and power. Feathers and bells are also used to decorate prestigious costumes. The art of textiles is complemented by that of ornaments, which include the highly prized skins, claws and teeth of lions, leopards, hippos and elephants.
Necklaces of large glass beads are common in chefs' costumes. However, the most emblematic garments are those made from Ndop and Toghuwhich have become ancestral and customary emblems of the Grassfields. Today, they embody a mark of identity, tradition and connection with ancestors. They bear witness to the richness, beauty, diversity and cultural identity of Cameroon.

The Ndop, traditional Cameroonian fabric par excellence

The Ndopalso known as "blue cloth", is a cotton fabric made up of narrow strips sewn edge to edge. It is decorated with characteristic designs in white on a blue background. Several types of Ndop exist in the Grassfields, with variations in dyeing, stitching and patterns. The motifs adorning Ndop are similar to those used in sculpture: stylized animals, geometric shapes, cosmic symbols. This gives Ndop a highly symbolic value, particularly at funerals. Ndop coupons decorate the space where these ceremonies take place. This blue fabric is also frequently used to make costumes for kings, notables and secret societies. According to tradition, Ndop is handed down from father to son.

The Toghu

Toghu, also known as "Atoghu", is the identifying symbol of the North-West region of Cameroon. Made from black velvet, it is hand-decorated with motifs and ornaments using threads in several colors: yellow, red, white and orange. Elements of the Grassfield cosmogony are featured. Toghu outfits are mainly worn by Fon and royal dignitaries, especially during official ceremonies. Today, however, the fabric is enjoying a renaissance among designers, who have democratized it not only in Cameroon, but worldwide. Like Ndop, Toghu's motifs can also be found in architecture.

Do you have a design or color preference between these two fabrics?

If you would like to find out more about African textiles, please visit the map of traditional African fabrics.

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