You hear “MUD CLOTH!” and you want to rush out and buy some disinfectant to sanitise everything.

Bogolan means ‘made from mud’ in Bambara, the main language of Mali, hence the traditional  term “Bogolan” or “Bogolanfini” is used as the name for this fabric and the process used in making it. There is nothing unsavoury about the mud cloth. The Bogolan technique of dyeing and printing cotton is entirely organic and kind to the environment. It contains no harmful mordants or chemicals and it uses dried leaves and tree bark as dye stuff. Modern dying and fabric making factories cannot boast of the same.  This process is traditionally done on the banks of the River Niger or its tributary, the Bani, where the fabric is spread out to dry in the sun.

Laundering these textiles is not recommended. Even dry cleaning not surprisingly, is too much for some of antique textiles. For some of the newer ones, a very gentle hand wash in cool water with a very gentle detergent could works, but even then, the dyes may not be colourfast, and fabric may be less strong than it appears.

Is there a place in the future for such fabrics?


kid mud cloth artist


Mounted on a wall, ok. As covers on footstool, all right. But dresses and aprons, and cushions, well, maybe there is a reason to be squeamish if you can’t give it a good wash.