Mali- Bogolanfini - Printing

 

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. The origin of this cloth is believed to lie in the Beledougou region of central Mali. Hand woven and hand-dyed mudcloth uses a centuries old process using numerous applications of various plant juices/teas and mud to dye hand woven cotton cloth.

Traditionally, Bamana women made the mud cloth. Bogolonfini, 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 as well as 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.

 

As a class the students brainstormed about things they like to do, eat, and are important to them in their life.  Some even wrote down important events.  Then they got to work transferring those ideas into pictographs.  Next the children engraved their pictographs into a Styrofoam printing plate and learned how to create prints.  They were encouraged to make several prints and they chose to frame their favorite one or two.  Some children crumpled their paper in order to make it look/feel more like real cloth.  Can you decode their symbols and find out what is important to them?

 

© 2014 by Ande Zielinski.

 

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