Bogolanfini (“Bo-ho-lahn-FEE-nee”), which translates as “mud cloth” is a long established tradition among the Bamana,
a Mande speaking people who inhabit a large area to the east and north of Bamako in Mali. Hand-woven and hand-dyed mudcloth uses a centuries old process using numerous applications of various plant juices/teas and mud to dye the hand woven cotton. The dark black color is the part where mud has been used as the dye. The lighter brown and beige tones come from leaves, bark and other plant materials
as the dye.
Traditionally, Bamana women made the mud cloth. Bogolanfini, for Bamana women, has always been an essential component in the marking of major life transitions, such as birth, marriage, and death. Bogolanfini is a living art form, with techniques and motifs passed down from generations of mothers to daughters. Bamana hunters also wear Bogolanfini in the form of red mudcloth laden with leather amulets, forceful visual symbols of the supernatural powers believed necessary for successful hunters to possess. Each piece of mudcloth tells a story. No two pieces are alike and each pattern and color combination has a meaning. The symbols, arrangements, color and shape of the mudcloth reveal secrets. The mudcloth is also used to define a person’s social status, character or occupation. Bogolanfini is an expression of Malian national identity and a symbol of belonging to African culture.