It is an African textile
with varied said origins
most renowned being
area north of Bamako
Excavations of archaeological deposits in
caves in the
Bandiagara area of Mali have proved the
existence of a large cotton industry as
early as the
11th century AD (Picton & Mack, 1989:31)
depion mud cloth depict historical events of
the 19th century (Polakoff, 1982:146).
Traditonally Bamana women make the cloth
during the non agricultural season which is
between October and May.
The cotton is harvested and handspun nearby.
The looming process begins when men,
using small hand or double heddle looms,
weave the cotton into long strips, called
finimugu. These thin strips (5 to 9 pieces) are
them sewn together to create a panel.
Women are the artists creating the designs
and each have their own technique and style
of preparing the cloth.
• The cloth is soaked in mashed and boiled, or soaked, leaves
of the n'gallama tree serving as a dye. Now yellow, the cloth is
sun-dried and then painted with designs using a piece of
metal or wood/bamboo.
• The paint, carefully and repeatedly applied to outline the
intricate motifs, is a special mud, collected from riverbeds and
fermented for up to a year in a clay jar. Thanks to a chemical
reaction between the mud and the dyed cloth, the brown color
remains after the mud is washed off. Finally, the
yellow n'gallama dye from the unpainted parts of the cloth turn
white by applying soap or bleach.
• After long use, the very dark brown color turns a variety of rich
tones of brown, while the unpainted underside of the fabric
retains a pale russet colour.
• Bògòlanfini is worn by hunters traditionally,
as camouflage, as ritual protection and as a
badge of status.
• Women are wrapped in bògòlanfini after their
initiation into adulthood and immediately after
childbirth, as the cloth is believed to have the
power to absorb dangerous forces released
at such times.
• Since 1980, Bògòlanfini has become a
symbol of Malian cultural identity, promoted
as such by the Malian government.
Bògòlanfini patterns are rich in cultural
significance, referring to :
-historical events like a famous battle
between a Malian warrior and the French,
-crocodiles (significant in Bambara
mythology) or -other objects
-mythological concepts or proverbs.
Black background and white design are considered the
traditional coloring of the cloth.
A rust color is supposed to represent the strong
supernatural powers that protect the hunter. It also
signifies blood from either the hunt of from warfare and
is useful as a form of camouflage.
Women and girls typically wear the color White during
Gray is a rarely seen color but like rust, it serves as a
camouflage for hunters.
To the disdain of the older generation, untraditional
colors such as reds, purples, yellows and oranges are
now being used
Due to the European colonialism, some of
the traditional patterns were lost and
brighter colours came into the picture.
Since the independence in 1960, mud cloth
developed toward a more modern look.