Mudcloth is a handmade Malian cotton fabric dyed using a process of fermented mud that dates back to the 12th century. The entire process takes between four to seven days. Narrow strips of cotton are first sewn together and soaked in cengura tree leaves enabling the fabric to absorb the mud dye. Layers of special mud are painted and laid in the sun to dry. Each additional layer of mud darkens the cloth and once completely dried excess mud is rinsed off.
Bleach is then used to brighten areas where the mud was not applied to give the rich white color. Designs mark major life transitions, and its traditional patterns refer to Bamana culture and history. Each piece has a unique story to tell. The symbols and arrangement reveal of variety of different secrets: proverbs, social status or historical events.
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