Pelete Bite Wrapper, Pelete Bite, 1930s
This is a Pelete bite wrapper. It is dated 1930s and we acquired it in 1988. Its medium is cotton and its technique is factory-woven plain weave, withdrawn-thread work. It is a part of the Textiles department.
The island group occupied by the Kalabari people is located in the Niger River delta. This strategic position brought them into contact with traders and travelers from many African and non-African cultures over a period of centuries. Their dress traditions are marked by an eclectic and cosmopolitan combination of cultural references. 
Cut-thread cloth takes imported Indian cotton madras as a starting point. But the subtractive process by which it becomes pelete bite transforms the finished product into a textile that is distinctively Kalabari. Beginning with simple stripes, plaids, or checks, the women selectively remove threads from the fabric by picking them up with a needle, cutting them with a razor blade, and pulling them from the weave. Often the lightest and brightest threads are removed, leaving a striking dark geometric design on a lighter checked ground. 
 M. Catherine Daly, Joanne B. Eicher, and Tonye V. Erekosima, “Male and Female Artistry in Kalabari Dress,” African Arts 19, no. 3 (May 1986): 48.
 Joanne B. Eicher, “A Ping-Pong Example of Cultural Authentication and Kalabari Cut-Thread Cloth” in Appropriation, Acculturation, Transformation: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 9th Biennial Symposium, Oakland, October 7–9, 2004: paper 439.
Our curators have highlighted 9 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:
Its dimensions are
Warp x Weft (weft selvedge to selvedge): 363 x 87 cm (11 ft. 10 15/16 in. x 34 1/4 in.)
Cite this object as
Pelete Bite Wrapper, Pelete Bite, 1930s; Nigeria; cotton; Warp x Weft (weft selvedge to selvedge): 363 x 87 cm (11 ft. 10 15/16 in. x 34 1/4 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 1988-56-1
In addition to Esperanza Spalding Selects, this object was previously on display as part of the exhibition David Adjaye Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection.