Mud-dyed cloth, bogolan, can not only be seen everywhere
in Mali-it has gone global. Clothing and interior designers worldwide
now use it or copy its designs.
The cloth's distinctive brown-red color comes from iron-rich mud.
Traditionally, an artist handpainted only the negative spaces, letting
the main image stand out as the unpainted white design on the cloth.
Recently, some mudcloth artists have experimented with stencils
that reverse how the design is made. The mud color becomes the main
design, while the unpainted white areas serve as the design background.
Traditionally, Bambara (Bamanan) women, as well as those of the
Minianka, Senufo, Dogon, and other ethnic groups, produced the cloth
for important life events and taught the process to their daughters.
Men, especially hunters, wore it for celebrations. Today, both women
and men make mudcloth for sale in markets, and Malian students study
it at the arts academy.
Visit the African
Voices exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History
for more information on bogolan.