28 Jan

The brave artisans of raffia

Last December, we travelled more than 30,000km to meet our various partners. We propose a series of articles to present them…

The first stage of our tour took us to the Lôh-djiboua region, precisely in the city of Divo in Côte d’Ivoire.

A loincloth full of mythology

In search of raffia weavers, we were warmly received by Eloge, Guy and Yves.
While Eloge was a wise old man (more than the white beard was missing), he told us the fabulous story of the loincloth of the Divo region, Yves and Guy (both weaver for 22 and 15 years) deepened the technical questions of the art of weaving raffia.

We were amazed by the discovery of this ancestral know-how, which unfortunately remains fragile. Indeed, there are few loincloths left in raffia. The city of Divo has only about 15 of them all together as a cooperative. Many young people who have become aware of this culture are now fighting for its conservation and re-evaluation at the national level.

Yves and Guy are the youngest weavers in the region. The mastery of this art actually requires thoroughness, patience and cold-blooded. Yves, for example, needed eight years to master all the basics of weaving (it throws!).

After more than an hour of stories about the history and myths associated with this loincloth, we have understood the priceless value it holds for the Dida people. This loincloth is according to Yves “their pride, historically it symbolizes royalty, greatness and some even attribute to it a mystical character.

Between traditional and ecological respect

Beyond its historical aspect, this traditional loincloth has naturally biological properties. This one is made from raffia.

Raphia is a naturally organic tree (no need for fertilizers, pesticides or GMOs for its production, it grows in swampy areas (no water waste) difficult to reach.

Once the fibre is extracted, it is hand-woven with a traditional craft. The weaving can range from 2 weeks to several months depending on the desired dimensions.
Once the weaving is done, we have a loincloth that can keep its natural colouring or be stained only with vegetable pigments (tree peel juice) and minerals whose stones used for black colouring (yes yes yes you do not dream stones serve as mineral dyes. We could not believe it..)

The raphia loincloth: an exceptional product

Historically, each coloration and motif symbolizes an emotion, an epic, an event of life (sadness/happiness).

The rarity of the raw material, the thoroughness of the weaving, its eco-responsible side and the long-term work that it requires make of this pagne a museum product of which the greatest collectors love.

our approach aims to be the first brand to offer handwoven raffia shoes.