The Bamana pillow celebrates West African culture in a very bold way and can make a statement where ever the pillow is placed. This one-of-a-kind pillow was made with two types of hand spun cotton mud cloth I collected while in Bolgatanga, Ghana. Originally made in Mali, high quality mudcloth is now made in several other West Africa countries.
21” x 21” (53.3 cm x 53.3 cm)
Front - cotton
Back - polyester cotton blend, in beige
Polyester pillow insert
Fabric origin: Mali
I have long been fascinated with the African textiles known as “mud cloth.” Every piece of this cloth is unique and has a story to tell. Originally, mud cloth was from Mali in West Africa. Mud cloth is also called “bogolanfini” and consists of three words: bogo, lan, and fini. Bogo means “earth” or “mud,” lan means “with,” and fini means “cloth.” Each symbol painted in the cloth has special meaning and can tell the history of a village, a person’s occupation, social status, or proverbs. Some symbols remain a mystery
Traditionally men weave narrow cotton strips of fabric that are pieced together to form a larger rectangular cloth. Women dye the cloth by first soaking the fabric in ground leaves creating a yellowish color. It is then dried and covered with a fermented mud to achieve patterns in black, brown, and white.
These first two steps can be repeated many times to achieve the desired patterns and colors.
The top section of this pillow is woven from hand-spun natural cotton and has a more complex motif design, with twisted warp ends forming a fringe that is decorated with African trade beads. The bottom section has traditional patterns with white highlights.
I purchased the mud cloths in a large market in Bolgatanga, Ghana. I was working with basket weavers who were part of a women’s development project within Trade Aid Integrated, a fair trade organization that markets the baskets.