I will admit to being absolutely obsessed with Bogolanfini (literally translated from Bamana as 'mud cloth')-- fabric produced in Mali. This particular piece is in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC, and is from the 19th Century. It was created to be a wrapper-- a piece of clothing worn by a woman around her chest and covering her torso and upper legs. Men weave the fabric, women dye it. The symbols are graphic, and have meaning-- and take a long apprenticeship to learn.
Traditional mud cloth was dyed in a long and complicated process of soaking the cloth in a bath of dye from the leaves of the n'gallama tree and then painted with special fermented mud. Since 1970 there have been many producers in Mali using a simpler production technique and simpler designs to allow mass-production allowing the fabric to become accessible and popular in Mali and worldwide.
The longer I spend studying traditional textiles from all over the world the more I am in love.
I could stare at mud cloth all day.