Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Mudcloth Textile Old Handwoven Black And White Mali African Art

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Type of Object Textile
Country of Origin Mali
People Bamana
Materials Cotton, dyes
Approximate Age 20th century
Height (in) 54
Width (in) 21

We do not recommend laundering textiles, and do not accept returns of textiles which have been laundered in any manner. Even dry cleaning is too much for some of these antique textiles. For some of them, a very gentle HAND washing (NEVER MACHINE, on any setting) in cool water with a very gentle detergent works, but even then, dyes may not be colorfast, and fabric may be less strong than it appears.

Additional Information: Bogolan or Bogolanfini is Malian name for the traditional African mud cloth made in Mali. In the Bamana language, the term "Bogolan" or "Bogolanfini" means Mud cloth in English. The same term is also applied to the process of making these cloths. "Bogo means earth or mud, lan means withor by means of and fini means cloth.

To make this cloth the artist uses a hand spun and hand woven cloth on which he/she adds designs of his/her choice. The process of producing these textiles is very long and involves both men and women. The cloth is handspun and handwoven by men who use local cotton and small strip looms. The strips produced are sewn together to make a large cloth. Almost ten strips are needed in order to get a normal wrapper size cloth. Each strip is around 5 to 6 inches wide. In traditional practice, the sewer joins the strips using needle and thread, and in more recent times the artist works with a hand-operated sewing machine.

The finished cloth is then washed off and dried in the sun. The dried cloth is soaked in a mixture of pounded leaves from local trees. Once dried, the cloth is ready to receive the mud dye and its decorations. Traditionally, women were in charge of decorating the cloth. Today both men and women can decorate a cloth. With a small bamboo or metal spatula, the artist draws the designs on the dried cloth using a pre-mixed mud dye. After that the cloth is washed to remove any excess mud from the design process. Each design is outlined one more time. The artist repeats this process to get a better result. Local bleach or soda is applied on yellow areas to make the patterns lighter. The textile is then dried in the sun and ready to be used.

Recommended Reading:

- Imperato, Pascal James and Marli Shamir, " Bokolanfini: Mudcloth of the Bamana of Mali", African Arts vol.3 # 4, Summer 1070:32-42

- Renewing Tradition. The revitalization of Bogolan Mali and Abroad. The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Catalog of Exhibition, 2000

- Rovine Victoria. "Bogolanfini in Bamako: The biography of a Malian Textile" African Arts, Vol. 30 #1, Winter 1997: 40-51, 94-96