How to decorate with beautiful mud cloth or Bogolanfini , the African textiles which are an everlasting decor trend for home interiors
If you have a flair for interior decor, surely you haven’t missed the so many inspirational boards and posts on Pinterest starring the gorgeous mud cloths.
These beautiful hand made African textiles from Mali, whose original name is Bogolan or Bogolanfini, are indeed making their way into modern interiors, both for their elegance – simple and yet stunning – and for their versatility.
In my column here I also refer to them as real protagonists of the ethno chic style, must have pieces to recreate an African inspired interior look. Given then all this attention and consideration, I think it is finally time to have a closer look at Malian mud cloths, delving into their origins and meaning as well as seeing some original ideas to decorate with mud cloths.
|| In search of more afro style décor ideas? Have a look at:
- The must have pieces for an African inspired house
- Decorate with African masks from Burkina Faso
- African Color palettes decor ideas
Nothing says afro chic more than these stylish gorgeous textiles – Credits
African mud cloths: The technique
Hand dyeing and painting with fermented mud
The proper Bambara (spoken language in Mali) term to refer to these kind of fabrics is Bogolanfini. The term is composed of three words: Bogo, meaning “earth” or “mud”, –lan, meaning “with” and –fini, meaning “cloth”. Hence, the translation currently in use, mud cloth.
In fact, Bogolan textiles are the result of a hand dyeing and painting process through fermented mud and leaves, a technique the ancient tribes of Mali use since the 12th century . The amazing fact is that the technique hasn’t changed since then. In fact, first, narrow strips of handwoven cotton are pieced together to form a larger rectangular cloth; cloths are then soaked and dyed in baths of leaves and branches of trees, which gives them a yellowish colour; after being sun-dried, cloths are hand painted using mostly fermented rivers’ mud which, for its high concentration of iron, produces mainly dark tones. When fermented plants are added, a wider range of colours come up, including the beautiful rust, caramel and mustard yellow.
|| Be inspired: Beautiful African color palettes for interiors
Hand painting is mostly done with a tiny piece of wood or metal for more meticulous motives – Credits
African mud cloths: Symbols and patterns
Bogolanfini express the powerful iconographic language of the people of Mali (Bambara, Minianka, Senufo, Dogon).
Each cloth, in fact, through its symbols and patterns, tells a story of births, marriages and deaths or make reference to animals, historical events, religion and mythologies of the tribe. It is also believed that the patterns and symbols are imbued with Nyama, which is the vital life force, energy and strength.
Traditionally, women wore mud cloths when they were initiated into adulthood; men, especially hunters, used them for celebrations.
Part of this ancestral storytelling is clearly lost today, but Bogolan keep playing an important role in the modern Malian culture. In fact, both women and men continue producing them for sale in the markets using the same handmade old technique, while Malian students approach them at the arts academy as an example of great tribal art as wells an important tradition to preserve.
Each symbol and pattern (they are endless!) reveal an intriguing story – Credits
African textiles in interiors: Decorate with mud cloths
Mud cloths are such a handy helper for your interior décor: beside making an exquisite upholstery, they can be arranged as accent pillows, draped along the foot of the bed, thrown on you favourite couch, hung on the wall as art and so many other original and fun solutions.
Style Tip #1: Upholstery
A classic armchair or an old rocker chair will come alive and definitely original thanks to the mud cloths’ intriguing tribal prints.
Bogolan as upholstery create a high-impact look that will breathe new life into your furniture – Credits, Credits
Decorate with mud cloths Tip #2: Accent pillows
Whether sitting solo on a chair or piled in multiples on your sofa or on your bed, mud cloths pillows can light up with style an entire room!
Pillows are always a great way to liven up your spaces – Credits, Credits
Style Tip #3: throws and plaids
Besides the overall aesthetic effect, which is stunning, you will really appreciate having mud cloths nearby you as plaids or bed throws; snuggling up in these textiles is extremely pleasant since the cotton is soft but thick enough to ensure you never feel cold.
This is such a nice and elegant way to style you bed or your sofa – Credits, Credits
Style Tip #4: hung on walls
Hanging mud cloths on walls won’t disappoint you and since their average dimension is big, the final effect is guaranteed.
Mud cloths on the walls are more chic than tapestry and dress up empty spaces more easily. Credits
#5 Other original ideas to decorate with mud cloth
Finally, have a look at these original and fun ideas to incorporate mud cloths in you house! They can become stylish covers for your plants’ pots, classy coasters or table cloths to style your meals and even super cute doghouses!
A twist on traditional plant and flower pots covers – Credits
Such a nice way to dress up your table – Credits
|| More about traditional African textiles:
- The beautiful indigo textiles from West Africa
- Discovering the beauty of African Kuba textiles
- West African textiles to decorate home