Types of Ankara (African Prints)

Shanae Wright

Posted on March 22 2020

Types of Ankara (African Prints)

Ankara fabrics have continued to gain wide popularity—dominating the international clothing and fashion industries. Over the years, Ankara has undergone so many variations—such that it’s been used for many other fashion accessories, such as earrings, handbags, shoes, etc. Today, Ankara is not just used by Africans alone but other people across the world, especially the fashion enthusiasts.

If you’re new to Ankara, odds are you may think it’s just a single material. But that’s not correct, Ankara—also known as African Prints exist in different types, which can be used for different clothing styles and accessories.

So for your needs, here are the different types of Ankara fabrics:

Wax Prints

The wax prints sprung out of West Africa to the world. Though it was originally manufactured in Dutch, the early Africans since found it very useful and embraced it. Wax prints were widely used in Nigeria, Ghana and other West African countries. But the story is not the same today, the wax prints have found its way to top fashion designers, and it’s been used around the world by celebrities and other fashion icons.

Wax prints are durable materials that are used for making various clothing designs for males and females. Some make causal wears out of it, while others use it for dresses meant for big events and so on. Wax prints are also used for fashion accessories like earrings, pendants, handbags, shoes, leggings, etc.


Kente has been around for many years. This fabric is handwoven cotton and silk that originated in Ghana, and it’s been used for notable events—such as weddings, festivals, etc. However, recent modifications to this fabric have given birth to different clothing styles, which are now used for casual dressing and others.

Like Wax prints, Kente has spread across Africa and beyond. It’s practically a symbol of African heritage!


This is the Tanzanian version of wax prints. It is named after a town in Tanzania, where It’s been produced. Morogoro differs from wax prints in size and pattern of the print. The fabric is made available for locals at affordable price. It is mostly used as wrappers for notable occasions.


Bogolan, which means made from mud, is an African fabric that originates from Mali. It is dyed with fermented mud traditionally. The dyes used are made from mixing roots, leaves, wild grapes and tree barks. It’s handwoven from the start to finish and it’s quite durable.

Bogolan is widely used in Mali for special dresses as well as other African countries. The fabric is also exported worldwide for fashion and decorations. Most of the mud cloths are used as tablecloths for hotels and wall décor.


Kikoy (also spelt Kikoi) is from Kenya and Tanzania. It’s 100% cotton and handmade. Like other African prints, Kikoy was mostly worn by locals then, but it has spread across the world in recent times. The materials are durable and often used as wrappers, beach towels, skirts, head wraps, etc.

Aso Oke

This is a popular fabric in Nigeria, used mostly for traditional occasions. It’s a handwoven fabric by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Aso Oke can be used for various clothing styles based on the event. It has also become popular in other African and non-African nations—but mostly worn by people of African descent domiciled. 

Wrap Up

The list can almost be endless as more and more African fabrics are gaining worldwide recognition. However, the above mentioned are the most notable types of Ankara African prints on the market, which are widely in use. Other African fabrics also in use include, Bark Cloth, SShweShwe, Ukara Ekpe, Adire, Kanga, amongst others. 

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