Marhaw – a Ghanaian/Ethiopian fashion business collaboration

Marhaw logo

The story of Marhaw is steeped in culture and African symbolism and is a registered company in Ghana and the UK. It is a Ghanaian owned & run company that operates in various parts of Africa. Our vision is to add value to the vibrant and precious Ghanaian Kente transforming it into new and innovative products combined with other raw materials from Africa. This makes our products “Proudly African and Globally Acceptable”!

Marhaw co-founder Edith Uyovbukerhi

The original idea was to sell Kente online but then a chance meeting with an Ethiopian handbag maker led to an experiment of handbags made with leather and Kente. With ideas being discussed and finalised between Ghana and Ethiopia, Marhaw was born. Ghana would supply the original hand-woven Kente through commissioning and working with local artisans and production would be in Ethiopia led by local handbag makers who are mainly female.

Currently, our Marhaw accessories are the combination of the best raw materials available in Africa. Our current Marhaw handbags and clutches are handmade from high quality genuine leather designed with hand-woven authentic Kente and Adinkra cloth to give you unique products. The range covers a wide spread of exquisite hand-made bags and soon we will introduce women shoes and slippers/sandals.

We produce various kinds of totes using Ethiopian leather combined with various Kente designs. Most of the designs are unique and original. Such products include the AfroClutch and ChicPurse and we also have the Kente Wide Tote, the Kente Window Tote and the Kente-strapped Barrel bag. We also have the Beads collection, using beads from Ghana.

The Marhaw Company Logo

When you climb a good tree you get good results.

The Marhaw logo is an adaptation of the Adinkra symbol “Wuforo dua pa a na ye pia wo” which literally means “When you climb a good (productive) tree you get good results.”

adinkra symbol

The original Adinkra symbol

Adapted symbol and Marhaw logo

Adapted symbol and Marhaw logo

The Marhaw team feels it has climbed a good tree as evidenced by our current collections – sourcing our materials from Ghana, Ethiopia and Namibia and as a result we are bound to get good results!

Our Latest Collections

Our latest collection is the unique and exclusive fur and Kente range, known as the Tri-nation Collection, which comes in medium-sized totes. We combined Ethiopian Leather and Kente with dyed Springbok and/or Nguni skins from Namibia.

Tan Leather / tie dye patches

Tan Leather / tie dye patches

The other is the Marhaw Tie-Dye Collection of totes and clutches, which have been a great hit! This collection is inspired by the tie-dye techniques that have been used for centuries amongst the Hausa people of Nigeria, with renowned indigo dye pits located in and around KanoNigeria. The tie-dyed clothing is then richly embroidered in traditional patterns. According to Wikipedia, it has been suggested that these African techniques were the inspiration for the tie-dyed garments identified with hippie fashion. Therefore this collection is another example of how Marhaw draws from Africa’s rich heritage.

Some of the Marhaw bags have also been a combination of Tie-Dye with Nguni and Springbok skins.

Significance of our Products

Our merchandise are manufacture from One of our key brands for our handbags is the Kente cloth, which is one of the most famous and wanted fabric in the whole of Africa. For Ghanaians Kente represents the history, philosophy, oral literature, religious beliefs, political thought and aesthetic principles of life and the vibrant and multiple colours in the cloth symbolizes various aspects of life as described below:

  • black—maturation, intensified spiritual energy
  • blue—peacefulness, harmony and love
  • green—vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
  • gold—royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
  • grey—healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
  • maroon—the colour of mother earth; associated with healing
  • pink—associated with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
  • purple—associated with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
  • red—political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
  • silver—serenity, purity, joy; assoc. with the moon
  • white—purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
  • yellow—preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility

History of Kente

Kente has its origins from the Ashanti Kingdom, and was later used by people in Ghana, other West African countries as well as the entire world. It was originally meant to be an Ashanti royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of Kings. Today, the use of Kente is widespread. Kente is predominantly made by the Ashanti and Akan

Suede-Kente Flap Tote

Suede-Kente Flap Tote

people in Ghana and villages/towns such as Bonwire, Adanwomase, and Wonoo in the Kwabre areas of the Ashanti Region have become renowned places for Kente weaving. (We can show map of this area) Kente is also produced by Akan groups in Coted’Ivoire and is worn by many other groups who have been influenced by Akans. It is the best known of all African textiles. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in Asante Twi and refer to it nwentoma, meaning woven cloth. The icon of African cultural heritage around the world, The Asante Kente is identified by its rich multi patterns of bright colors, geometric shapes, and bold designs. A variety of patterns have been invented, each of which has a certain concept or concepts associated with it. For instance, there has been a Kente woven and named after Presidents of Ghana and their wives.

Therefore anyone who carries a Marhaw bag carries the principles of the meaning of life. We think that is profound!

 

Using Adinkra Cloths

Anthony Boakye uses a comb to mark parallel lines on an adinkra cloth in Ntonso, Ghana.

In addition, we use Adinkra cloths on some of our bags instead of Kente. These cloths used to be worn only by royalty and spiritual leaders for funerals and other very special occasions. These days they are worn by anyone. Previously, Adinkra were hand printed on undyed, red, dark brown or black hand-woven cotton fabric depending on the occasion and the wearer’s role but are now frequently mass-produced on brighter coloured fabrics and used in the Ghanaian fashion industry. [Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adinkra_symbols]

Marhaw bags made with Adinkra Cloth

The present centre of traditional production of adinkra cloth is Ntonso, 20 km northwest of Kumasi where dark Adinkra aduro pigment for the stamping is made, by soaking, pulverizing, and boiling the inner bark and roots of the badie tree (Bridelia ferruginea)[6] in water over a wood fire. Once the dark colour is released, the mixture is strained, and then boiled for several more hours until it thickens. The stamps are carved out of the bottom of a calabash piece. They measure between five and eight centimetres square. They have a handle on the back, and the stamp itself is slightly curved, so that the dye can be put on with a rocking motion.

Medium Tote with red:black Adinkra Cloth

Medium Tote with red:black Adinkra Cloth

Marhaw Wide Tote with   black:brown Adinkra cloth

Marhaw Wide Tote with black:brown Adinkra cloth

AfroClutch- bottle green suede with green and white dotted-lines Adinkra cloth in the middle

AfroClutch- bottle green suede with green and white dotted-lines Adinkra cloth in the middle

Marhaw sources all Adinkra used on their bags from Ntonso and Kente from Bonwire and Adawomase.

Use of Springbok & Nguni

Southern African Wildlife Infusion

Orange-dyed Springbok fur with matching Kente and brown suede tote

Orange-dyed Springbok fur with matching Kente and brown suede tote

Furthermore, Nguni cattle from Southern Africa have played an important social and economic role in the development of traditional societies and are used as a bride’s dowry amongst the XhosaZulu and Swazi people. The springbok is hunted as game throughout Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa because of their beautiful coats. It is also the springbok is currently the national animal of South Africa.

Consequently, Marhaw products combine and showcase Africa’s rich cultural and wildlife heritage and packaged into modern merchandise and shared with the rest of the world. It is in fact African sophistication for the discerning woman, anywhere in the world.

Use of Ghanaian Beads

The Marhaw Beads Collection is an innovation in itself and something that appeals to many. Beads have a long history in Ghana. They were once used as currency and exchanged for slaves, alcoholic drinks, and textiles.

While they are no longer used as currency, they are still valuable to Ghana and have a pride of place in our culture. Beads are used in ceremonies of birth, naming, coming of age, marriage or death and are on full display during traditional festivals. The beads we use for our bags come from Krobo, in the Eastern region of the country.

Black leather tote with a circle handle is adorned with lime green Ghanaian beads

Marhaw Beads AfroClutch

Marhaw logo

Web: marhaw.com
Facebook: pages/Marhaw
Pinterest: MarhawHandbags
Instagram: marhawfashion
Email: info@marhaw.com

Ghana: P.O.Box CT1434, Cantonments, Accra | (physical): B837/7 Shishia Close, North Kaneshie, Accra
Ethiopia: H/No 048, K15, W29, Addis Ababa


Also read ABURY Design Experience: Preserving World Crafts.

Explore the African Fashion gallery

One thought on “Marhaw – a Ghanaian/Ethiopian fashion business collaboration

  1. Pingback: Marhaw – a Ghanaian/Ethiopian fashion business collaboration | Marhaw

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