The angisa: the headscarf as a means of communication
With these square starched headscarves women in Surinam could pass messages to each other, express their mood or even invite a lover. Are you wondering what they actually ‘say’? Then read on.
Fabrics that talk
The pattern and sometimes the name of the angisa play a role in the ‘message’ they convey. Folding these headscarves is a special art. That knowledge is still passed on by word of mouth in numerous workshops and there are initiatives to document this knowledge.
The different ways of folding have been and still are inspired by all kinds of things. There is the low ede, which is worn during mourning. It’s a sober headscarf, often white, with the ends tied together at the front. At the beginning of the twentieth century cars appeared on the scene, an inspiration for the oto-baka style, an angisa that is very wide at the back. Trobi (trouble, quarrel) styles, with which women showed their displeasure, are intriguing. One angisa, with the ends firmly pointing upwards, goes so far as to mean drop dead. Nowadays these angry angisas are worn more out of respect for the past than out of anger. The friendlier Paw-tere is based on a peacock’s tail and has a soft, downward point.
Guyanese French ede style
On this angisa folded in the Guyanese French ede style, you can see the coat of arms of Surinam - an oval shield with a sailing ship carried by two Surinamese men, and the motto, Justitia Pietas Fides (Justice, Piety and Fidelity).
This angisa is also folded according to the French way of folding (French ede). The pattern of the fabric means: san ati e tyari fesi ne sori, lobi na basi – what your heart bears, your face does not show, love goes before all.
Let them talk
The way this angisa is folded is called let them talk. The pattern is based on Javanese batik, Yampanesi.
Wait for me on the corner
Wait for me on the corner is the message of this way of folding, which can be seen by the protruding point. It’s a message to a lover.
This headscarf was made to commemorate the abolition of slavery in Surinam in 1863. Surinam’s coat of arms is depicted twice on a red background, with the dates 1 July 1863 and 1 July 1963. Above and below that, in all four corners, are two black hands in handcuffs with broken chains and the caption Keti Koti (the chain is broken).
Want to know more?
Do you want to know more about the different ways of folding an angisa and what their message is? A blog will be published soon.