New Handmade Authentic African Mud Cloth~~Bogolanfini~~Bambara
If you have never experienced authentic African mud cloth, you are in for a rare experience! Real mud cloth is one of the very few fabrics which is still completely made by hand! And we do mean completely!
Mudcloth is a fabric originating in Mali, Africa. The cotton is often raised on small, family farms, using very simple, labor intensive methods. After being picked and cleaned, it is spun into rough yarns. These fibers are woven into 5-6 inch wide strips, traditionally by the men of the village, on hand looms. Not only is this time-consuming, but you need 7-10 strips, each around 5-6 feet long, in order to create an average size fabric piece! The strips are sewn together, and here, we admit, is where a machine may come into use. Sometimes the strips are connected by a worker with a hand operated sewing machine, sometimes by a sewer. Notice that either method is still done by hand.
Before decorating, the cloth is soaked in a tea from the N’Galaman or N’Tjankara trees, or occasionally other types. This stain acts like a fixative for the colors to come and may give the fabric a tannish background shade. It’s also where the alternative term of “bogolan” originated. Now prior to this, dyes from boiling, mashing, and fermenting of various roots, leaves, flowers, stems, fruits, and seeds, are mixed with mud and allowed to age, often for up to a year, until they reach the correct colors. Each artist has his or her own carefully guarded formulas for the hues, and secret spots for procurring the muds. (Hence the “mud cloth” term.) This process may take years for the creators to learn, as not only dyes, but also their reactions with cloth and fixatives must be known. Traditionally, this was done by the women of the village, but nowadays men also do the designing. These pastes are individually applied, washed off, and often reapplied according to the artist’s desire. Various layers and combinations are used. Occasionally the work is soaked in a final solution which brings out the patterns further. If the color white is required, these areas may need extra attention to rebleach with a soda. The entire process can take weeks to months for each item, not counting all the prior preparation by the farmers, weavers, and dye experts.
All patterns and colors on mudcloth have meaning. Often they are not the same across various areas. They may stand for status, people group, or even character. Black with white markings is used for storytelling or proverbs. The rust color represents blood from either hunting or war, and is particularly favored by the Fulani people. Cream is the color of the fabric before decorating and after soaking in the fixative. Some patterns are simply meant to be beautiful, and the modern day artists may experiment with new designs, colors, and combinations.
As this fabric is completely handmade, some slubs and unevenness may occur. All measurements are approximate.
Materials: Cotton; natural dyes
Origin: Mali, Africa
Dimensions: approximately 43 x 65 inches
Terms Of Sale
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Please see shipping calculator below for shipping charges for this item.
We always ship as soon as possible, usually within 3 business days of receipt of payment. During busy times, it may be up to 5 days. We charge the exact shipping costs. If shipping charges are computed incorrectly, we will either refund the difference (if it was an overcharge), or pay the difference ourselves (if it was an undercharge).
We pack carefully and professionally, using only new boxes and plenty of cushioning. One of our customers has referred to our technique as “bomb proof!”
Returns and Refunds
Returns are happily (okay, just politely) accepted. Please contact us first, so we know to look for it. Then repackage the item carefully, and ship it back in any way that is easiest for you. Once it arrives, we will inspect it, and if it is in original condition, we will then refund the price paid, minus shipping, in the same manner in which it was paid.
Please note that the item must get to us in original condition and within 14 days of purchase for us to be able to honor the refund policy!