Like the zebra, bogolan (or “bogolanfini,” Bamakan for “cloth made of earth”) is characterized by contrast and pattern.  In origin, the mud cloths of Mali are protective garments - their geometric arrangements are designed to confuse and cast-out harmful spirits.  More recently bogolan has evolved into a banner of pan-Africanism and “black consciousness” for those living within the continental boundaries and the broader diaspora.  Spiritual and symbolic significances aside, many people are simply drawn to the striking, hollow shapes that have been cleverly framed within richly textured black, brown and yellow fabrics.

 

The array of earth-toned colors are conjured through traditional mud-dyeing methods.  To begin the classic process, cotton stripweaves are prepared in a mordant bath of mulched leaves from local trees, like the n’galman and n’tjankara.  Fermented mud that has been extracted from river beds and stored in iron-rich salts for one year or more is then applied around the decorative outlines drawn on the sewn fabric.  After the mud has dried, the textile is washed and the remaining yellow areas are bleached to complete the process, although sometimes the entire cycle is repeated (perhaps several times) in order to deepen the shade or color.

 

As the first textile to adorn a Kauli product, bogolan plays an important role in the history of Kauli and remains the favorite member of our Dry Season collections.

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