CMA Stories

6 Fun Facts about Mud Cloth

Join us Sunday, June 3, to celebrate the culture of West Africa. There will be workshops inspired by traditional and contemporary arts practices of West Africa along with a children’s book reading in partnership with the Hudson Park Branch of the New York Public Library at 11:00 am and a musical performance by Gambian Kora player, Salieu Suso at 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm.

We will be creating mixed media wired sculptures inspired by Adejoke Tugbiyele in Fine Arts, upcycling animations in the Media Lab, exploring the beats of West Africa in the Sound Booth and more!

To get us ready for the festival, here are 6 fun facts about Mud Cloth:

1. Mud Cloth is also called bògòlanfini and bogolan in the Bambara language of Mali.
2. Bògòlanfini is made up of three words: “bògò,” “lan,” and “fini”. Bògò means “earth” or “mud,” lan means “with,” or “by means of”; and fini means “cloth.”
3. Bògòlanfini or bogolan is a handmade Malian cotton fabric traditionally dyed with fermented mud.
4. The symbols in Bògòlanfinis represent historical events, social status or proverbs.
5. The process to make bògòlanfini or bogolan is a very intricate process beginning with soaking the cloth in a dye bath made from leaves of the n’gallama tree, then the artisan creates a pattern and paints around it leaving the unpainted parts of the pattern to be made white by applying soap or bleach.
6. The “paint” is mud collected from riverbeds and fermented for over a year in a clay jar.

This program is supported, in part, by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. 

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