Bogolanfini = Mudcloth
Bogo = clay, mud
lan = result of
Fini = cloth
Bogolanfini is a technique historically used by the Bamana women in Mali, West Africa, to dye cloth for important life occasions. The cloth is locally grown, spun and woven cotton – the dyestuff is mud collected from the Niger River – the tannin is from the leaves or bark of several bushes/trees. The finished product is a white symbolic design on a black background.
There are a whole slew of variables that make the process work perfectly in Mali. Those same variables make it difficult, if not impossible, to follow the process exactly anywhere else.
The modified version of bogolanfini that I have devised produces cloth that is similar – in that it uses the color from mud to dye the cloth – but certainly not the same.
There is an ongoing debate about the use of the terms ‘bogolanfini’ vs. ‘mudcloth’ – who should use them and when and why. As she cannot duplicate the process, I refer to my work as mudcloth, leaving bogolanfini to be used by those who practice the original, traditional process.
A bibliography and some links will be listed in the future for you to research the discussion.
In the meantime, enjoy the work that is currently posted! (The first two photos below show original Mali work.)