The cross-cultural usage of a particular cloth type – blueprint – is central to South African cultural history. Known locally as seshoeshoe or isishweshwe, among many other localised names, South African blueprint originated in the Far East and East Asia. Adapted and absorbed by the West, blueprint in South Africa was originally associated with trade, coercion, colonisation, Westernisation, religious conversion and cultural marginalisation, and slavery. But its usage has endured. The cloth came to reflect histories of hardship, courage and survival, but it also conveyed the taste and aesthetic predilections of its users, preferences often shared across racial and cultural divides. In its indigenisation, isishweshwe has subverted its former history and alien origins and has come to reflect the authority of its users and their culture, conveying resilience, innovation and adaptation and above all a distinctive South Africanness.