Spinning, weaving and sewing are gender specific tasks. Women hand spin yarn of locally grown cotton while menfolk continue the process by weaving the undyed yarn into long but narrow strips using a hand held, double heddle loom. They then sew the strips together, selvedge to selvedge, to produce large cloths which can be used for garments for either sexes. This final result is called finimougou which is prewashed and shrunk for use in either its uncolored state or taken to be dyed in the elaborate process that characterizes bogalanfini.
The yellow color does not appear in the finished article but it significantly contributes to the process, acting as a fixative for the colors to come... the tannic acid in the tea combines with the iron oxide in the mud to create the familiar dark brown/black background color we associate with bogolanfini. Once the cloth is dry the patterns are drawn on to the fabric with a pointed iron spatula, stick or quill and the negative space is covered with fermented mud until it turns grey.
The design will be light (yellow) against the dark background. Then when the mud is dry, it will be washed off and the process repeated again and again until the desired depth of tone is achieved in the background.
Some communities prefer terracotta or red tones and the women use a mixture of different leaves, roots and bark to get the rich, burnt-earth to orange tones.
The remaining yellow places are then bleached to get the fabric back to its original, undyed color. These areas are painted with a substance made of ground peanuts, caustic soda, millet bran and water which turns these places a light brown. When washed out a week or so later, the once yellow design will emerge bleached and pure white, a dramatic contrast to the dark ground. Modern versions of mud cloth have the patterns stencilled on to the textile.
Size: 111.8 cm x 200 cm