For the African zebra lover, the screened cotton fabric in this pillow was hand printed in Mombasa, Kenya. The panel of mud cloth from Mali makes this pillow uniquely African along with the three batik bone beads added for embellishment. This one-of-a-kind pillow will add an element of adventure to any room setting.
14” x 14” (35.5 cm x 35.5 cm)
Front - cotton
Back - suede, in chestnut
Polyester pillow insert
Fabric origins: Kenya, Mali
The mud cloth on the left side of this pillow was purchased at a large market in Bolgatanga, Ghana. I was in Bolga working with basket weavers who were part a women’s development project of Trade Aid Integrated, a fair trade organization who markets the baskets. This small piece of mud cloth is embellished with three batik bone beads.
I have long been fascinated with the African textiles known as mud cloth. Every piece is unique and has a story to tell. Originally, mud cloth is from Mali in West Africa. Mud cloth is also called bogolanfini which is made of three words: Bogo, lan and fini. Bogo means “earth” or “mud”, lan means “with” and fini means “cloth”. Symbols painted in the cloth each have 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 using hand spun organic cotton which are pieced together to form a larger rectangle 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 silk screen design was done by Bombolulu Workshops in Mombasa, Kenya, printed on white cotton. Bombolulu Workshops is a fair trade organization training and employing physically challenged people mainly afflicted with polio. Besides handicrafts, there are workshops trained in making wheelchairs. I was fortunate to have visited Bombolulu many times working on product development for Serrv International. The zebra print was part of a series of different safari animals. Currently available is a giraffe pillow with an elephant, gazelle and rhino pillows soon in the making.