Legacies: stereotypes, racism and the civil rights movement

Fabric, Slave chain

Designed by Paterson Zochonis, Manchester, printed by Uniontex, Nigeria, 1965
Wax-printed cotton fabric

Object number 1995.2
Given by Cussons (International) Ltd

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Fabric, Slave chain

This fabric is printed with a design of interlocking chains and slave shackles. It was produced in 1965 by the textile firm of Paterson Zochonis, for the centenary of the abolition of slavery in the USA, brought about by the victory of President Lincoln in the American Civil War. It is a very powerful image, commemorating the millions of Africans who were uprooted and transported in terrible conditions to new lives thousands of miles from home.

During the years of the transatlantic slave trade, Europeans exchanged manufactured goods, such as guns, ironware and textiles, with African traders for enslaved peoples. These slaves were then sold in the Americas and the Caribbean for commodities such as cotton, sugar and rice which were transported to Europe as part of the triangular trade.

Paterson Zochonis was established as a trading company in Sierra Leone in 1879, continuing the established trading links with Europe after slavery had been abolished. In 1886, it opened its headquarters in Manchester. The company was a textile merchant-converter, buying cloth straight from the loom and arranging for it to be printed and finished. Much of its trade was with west Africa. This fabric was designed by Paterson Zochonis in Manchester, marketed by the Manchester-based Calico Printers' Association and printed by Uniontex in Kaduna, Nigeria.

This information was provided by curators at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI).