woman's skirt (bogolanfini)

Bamana people

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Bamana “mud cloths” (bogolanfini), which are made of narrow strips of hand-spun cotton woven by men, illustrate an unusual, complicated and multi-step method of dyeing which women specialize in. An outline of the process follows: Cloths are soaked in a solution that dyes them yellow and serves as a mordant. The cotton fibers will now accept an iron-rich mud dye, which is applied with bamboo, wooden or iron implements. Cloths are usually given two applications of mud due, after which they are soaked in a caustic soda bath to bleach out and make white the yellow areas that have not been painted with mud. In effect, the mud dye is not the design, but rather it establishes the negative space around the areas of white design.

The design elements on bogolanfini are drawn from a variety of sources: plants, animals, everyday objects, proverbs and historical events. The names and meanings of motifs may change over time and from place to place. A cloth usually combines a number of design elements, as with this wrapper.

Object Information

Bamana people
creation date
cotton, mud
50 x 32 in.
accession number
credit line
Costume, Textile Purchase and Delavan Smith Funds
No Known Rights Holder
Textile and Fashion Arts

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