Paulie Serenade Kanga KimonoHistory of the KangaAs early as the 1850s or 1860s, women in the coastal regions of Kenya and Tanzania (perhaps around Lamu or Pate,but most likely in Mombasa or Zanzibar) began buying uncut lineal sheets of six handkerchief squares,called leso in Portuguese, cutting the lengths in half and sewing them together lengthwiseto create larger rectangular cloths with two rows of three pattern squares each. By 1875, enterprising merchants in Zanzibar began to import modified leso from England,Switzerland, India, and the Netherlands. Leso eventually also took the name of khanga,possibly because a popular early print included small spots similar to the coloration of the guinea fowl, called khanga in Kiswahili.Around the turn of the century, leso/khanga became especially popular in Zanzibar,appearing at the moment that many former slaves were intent on visually separating themselves from their past and redefining themselves as newly independent, and fashionable, individuals.
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Beautiful, versatile and feminine