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Scholars have described African textiles as the antecedents of African American quilting and textile patterns. Specifically, many of the symbols and patterns that have appeared in African American quilts have been linked to West and West-Central African patterns dating as early as the 17th century. While some contemporary quilters and textile makers may not be conscious of these diasporic links, they have been influenced by previous generations’ exposure to forms and methods whose roots were born within pre-Atlantic African contexts.

This entry provides a basic overview of the links between African and African diasporic quilting and textile traditions. It also discusses the role of textiles in spiritual traditions in the African world and in the operation of the Underground Railroad in the United States. ...

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