Women’s Identity, Textiles and Heritage: Coastal Style in Mozambique (WITH Coastal Style) is a one-year project (June 2019 – June 2020), researching and promoting women’s identities and concerns linked to marine heritage in Katembe District, Maputo, Mozambique.

The project is an international collaboration between National Museums Scotland, the Fortress Museum (with Eduardo Mondlane University), and the Fisheries Museum in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Rising from the Depths Network in the United Kingdom.  

As a symbol of Mozambican heritage, capulana cloths have been preserved and passed from one generation to the next and with them the stories of the women who wear them. The project will focus on collecting these stories from the women who live and work among the fishing communities of Katembe, situated on the southern bank of Maputo Bay. The projected urbanization development of the region following the building of the Maputo suspension bridge will impact on material practices and living traditions among women in these coastal communities. This project aims to make visible the role of capulanas as markers of female identity and as archives of women’s histories and memories. The project is intended to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 5 (Gender Equality). 

  • Capulana featuring a repeating pattern of photographic portraits of Princess Diana and the legends 'Queen of Hearts'; 'Princess' and 'Diana': Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.

    Capulana featuring a repeating pattern of photographic portraits of Princess Diana and the legends 'Queen of Hearts'; 'Princess' and 'Diana': Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.
  • Capulana featuring the national flag of Mozambique with a border around the edge of green, black and orange with the legend 'I 'heart' Mozambique' below': Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.

    Capulana featuring the national flag of Mozambique with a border around the edge of green, black and orange with the legend 'I 'heart' Mozambique' below': Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.
  • Capulana featuring a rectangular design representing Mozambican sea faring trade with a map of Africa filled with fruits in the centre: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.

    Capulana featuring a rectangular design representing Mozambican sea faring trade with a map of Africa filled with fruits in the centre: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.
  • Capulana featuring a repeating pattern of large green and blue stylised peacocks on golden yellow ground: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.

    Capulana featuring a repeating pattern of large green and blue stylised peacocks on golden yellow ground: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.
  • Capulana featuring a pattern of red apple motifs on a spotted white ground with a large central circular motif, enclosed in a rectangular border: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.

    Capulana featuring a pattern of red apple motifs on a spotted white ground with a large central circular motif, enclosed in a rectangular border: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.
  • Capulana featuring a pattern of different white sea shells with a rectangular border of a shells: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.

    Capulana featuring a pattern of different white sea shells with a rectangular border of a shells: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.
  • Capulana featuring a pattern of blue green, black and yellow stylised peacock feathers with circular central and corner motifs containing a leaf and fruit pattern: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.

    Capulana featuring a pattern of blue green, black and yellow stylised peacock feathers with circular central and corner motifs containing a leaf and fruit pattern: Africa, Southern Africa, Mozambique, 1994-2000.
  • Capulana printed to commemorate 40 years of Mozambican independence: Africa, East Africa, Mozambique, Maputo, 2018.

    Capulana printed to commemorate 40 years of Mozambican independence: Africa, East Africa, Mozambique, Maputo, 2018.
  • Capulana printed for political party FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front): Africa, East Africa, Mozambique, Maputo, 2018.

    Capulana printed for political party FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front): Africa, East Africa, Mozambique, Maputo, 2018.
  • Capulana printed to celebrate Filipe Jacinto Nyussi, fourth FRELIMO president of Mozambique: Africa, East Africa, Mozambique, Maputo, 2018.

    Capulana printed to celebrate Filipe Jacinto Nyussi, fourth FRELIMO president of Mozambique: Africa, East Africa, Mozambique, Maputo, 2018.


The project will include a photographic exhibition at the Fortress Museum (planned for April 2020), and a mobile community exhibition in Katembe led by the Fisheries Museum (planned for May 2020). These stories will also be shared on the National Museums Scotland website. A new collection of capulana will be made for National Museums Scotland to augment the Museum’s existing collection acquired by Scottish missionaries working in Mozambique between 1994 and 2000 and donated to the Museum in 2008.

This project builds on previous research related to contemporary textiles and dress in Malawi undertaken by Project Principal Investigator Sarah Worden, Senior Curator of African collections and is an opportunity for National Museums Scotland to develop further experience of international museums collaboration with outcomes which include creating new connections between local community and museum public engagement.

Project partners

Rising from the Depths    Museu das Pascas    Fortaleza de Maputo     Universidade Eduardo Mondlane  Arts & Humanities Research Council


Header image: Capulana with ‘Museu das Pescas’ pattern commissioned by the Fisheries Museum: Africa, East Africa, Mozambique, Maputo, 2018.

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