I had never heard of mud cloth until a few weeks ago when a woman in my fiber art open studio hours wore a jacket made of it. And now? Now I’m seeing it pop up everywhere. And being the naturally curious gal that I am I decided to look into it a bit more.
Bògòlanfini or bogolan (Bambara: bɔgɔlanfini; “mud cloth“) is a handmade Malian cotton fabric traditionally dyed with fermented mud. It has an important place in traditional Malian culture and has, more recently, become a symbol of Malian cultural identity.
Textiles express the individuality of a place in a way that is completely unique, like the wedding blankets from Morocco, kilims from Turkey, and rugs woven in the Andes of Peru. Today, we are traveling to Mali to look at mud cloth or bogolanfini, which is one of the best known African cloth traditions. Bogolanfini is a handmade Malian cotton fabric dyed using a process of fermented mud that dates back to 12th century. Design Sponge
It turns out I had SEEN it before but I never knew what it was called. If you read that Design Sponge article (Click on the italicized, purple words above to read it) you’ll see that the process of creating mud cloth is genuinely amazing. So much work!
I love learning about different cultures – especially the handmade and artful side of things.
Mud cloth textiles are chock full of graphic images and symbols. I did a little search on Pinterest and you can see loads of references to the symbols and their meanings. Simply stunning!
Here are more mud cloth resources –
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Mud Cloth Bambara – This listing is somewhat confusing but if you read the reviews you’ll see you get ONE large piece of fabric. It is gorgeous fabric!
African American Brown Black Mud Cloth Pattern Throw – I love the symbols in this!
Spoonflower has an variety of mud cloth inspired fabrics.
Justina Blakenely has a long list of mud cloth inspired favorites over on Chairish.
The folks at Apartment therapy have a DIY to try that works a lot like a project I made several years ago (who knew?) – How To Make Your Own Mudcloth.
There is also a HUGE selection of mud cloth related items over on Etsy.
You can also read more about it in this book with a CD with over 200 mud cloth patterns. Bogolanfini Mud Cloth
What can I do with mud cloth?
- Cut it into smaller pieces for throw pillows – mud cloth makes a super on-trend graphic looking toss pillow
- Hang as a curtain – hang a thinner strip as a valance over a small window
- Hang as a tapestry
- Frame a piece for unique, beautiful art
- Get inspired by the symbols