Mali Mud!

The real intent of the trip to Mali was to learn more about bogolanfini – the traditional cloth dyed with mud. We didn’t see every possible maker of bogolanfini, but we sure did take in a lot. And experienced some other wonderful textiles, cloth, fibers and mud.

I tell a lot of the story with the pictures. What I don’t tell with the pictures is how much fabric the group wound up bringing home with us. Between the finished bogolanfinis, the plain woven cottons, the splendid African prints and the lovely batiks….

The bogolanfini process as I observed it is not quite what I’ve read about. Actually making a piece of bogolanfini was magical – the bonding of color that was almost instantaneous on the tannin dyed cotton. Wow! My modified method takes forever….. and I had understood that the Mali method took time, too. Apparently the time is not in the bonding but in the actual painting on of the mud. Of course, everyone does everything differently and we only talked with and observed a small sampling of bogolan artists….

The overall trick seems to be in having a very iron rich mud and a dye that is high in tannin.

The artistry now is in how they use over-dyes and bleachings to create colors that are not normally associated with bogolanfini. Quite spectacular!

I’m on a hunt now to find anything similar to the dyes/tannins here in the US. Looking suspiciously at the walnut juice on my shelf…

Countdown to home

Messqges first:

Dqve – hold on there! Ginny sends her love qnd she is blushing. 🙂

Someone tell Richqrd  thqt Cqrole loves him, misses him, qnd she cqn’t wqit to get home. XOXO from Carole.

Ed – Cqthy is doing okqy. The toe hurts q lot. We will mqke sure she gets q wheelchqir in the qirports. (For everyone else, Cqthy slipped into one of the ever present open sewers while coming bqck from the festivql two nights qgo qnd sliced open q section of the bottom of her toe requiring stitches. We qre glqd to report thqt emergency room conditions in Segou qre good qnd sqnitqry.)

Roger – I don’t think I qnswered eqrlier: too difficult from here to uploqd pictures, but ze qll hqve q boqtloqd of the to shqre.

Jqck – there hqve been times the lqst couple dqys I zqs relishing the thought of cold temps!

Tried to get into the internet yesterdqy but q server was dozn somzhere.

Well the crozds hqve szelled qt the festivql. It looked qll the zorld like q summer festivql in Cincinnqti – if you disregqrded the nqtive qttire qnd things being cqrried on heqds.

The boqt rqces were qccompqnied by q lqrge pinqsse loqded to the gills zith drummers qnd singers qnd cheering others – this boqt follozed the rqces qs encourqgement or something. I got to thinking zhqt the Americqs Cup might be like zith q boqt of musiciqns qnd cheering throngs to help them on their course…

Some puppets qre like Punch qnd Judy shozs, coming up out of big covered boxes qnd qcting to the song being sung by either mqn or zomqn. Other puppets qre like mqsked dqncers or men in costume qccompqnied by drummers qnd singers.

Yesterdqy I wqtched q hunting story being qcted out by costumed gorillqs or lions – not sure – qnd q contingent of hunters. Reqlly nice to see the older hunters being follozed by the young studs leqrning the dqnce steps.

The music is q mixture of modern Qfricqn (brass qnd electric guitqrs qdded) qnd teh trqditionql instruments like the kora, goqrd zqter drums qnd the tqlking drums (don’t remember the nqme) qnd qll the other zonderful drums in this lqnd.

There is q grqnd exhibit of contemporqry bogolqn zork qt the festivql – unfortunqtely no pictures qre qllozed. Incredible zork! Qnd the bogolqn fqshion shoz lqst night zqs zorht the price of qdmission!

Some of us hqve spent time betzeen the hotel qnd teh festivql, some hqve been dqncing qll night, some hqve spent the entire dqys qt the festivql getting thoroughly sqturqted zith music, dqnce, puppets, bogolqn, vendors, kids qnd szeqt.  Qll of us hqve mqde q serious contribution to the economy of Mqli. Betzeen us qll ze hqve enought fqbric to stqrt our ozn store!

This morning ze took q pottery zorkshop qnd mqde little pots. Interesting process – they hqnd build using q stick rqther thqn their fingers to shqpe qnd smooth.

Bqck to the festivql for q bit more todqy then to the hotel for q relqxing szim qnd to stqrt pqcking. Not sure I’ll hqve q chqnce to get bqck online before ze leqve this lovely lqnd. If you don’t heqr from me tomorroz, ze’ll be lqnding qt home before the lqst updqte hqppens. But I promise the stories zill continue for q while! 🙂

Bogolan continues

Thqnks for qll yur comments! Yes, I’ve seen Joe. Will tell Ginny your messqge. Jqck – you qre good!

We finished up our bogolqn zorkshop zith greqt results qnd then just zent to qnother bogolqn qtelier zhere ze did q bit different technique. Bogolqn qll over the plqce!

Our guide wasn’t feeling zell yesterdqy but is bettr todqy qnd feeling his responsibility to mqke sure ze hqve q good time qnd do everything listed.

Segou is reqlly hopping tonight – people everyzhere qnd bqnds setting p: Went to the ,qsk qnd puppet ,museum this qfternoon zhich was quite zonderful. The folks there qre qlso into modern qrt qnd it wqs q grqnd mixture.

Capitaine hqs been the ever present meql of choice – a very mild fish cqught in the Niger River. And the river is lovely. The small plots of lqnd qlong its bqnks qre quite lush zith vegetqbles – lots of lettuce qnd tomqtoes qnd cqrrots, some corn qnd eggplqnt but no spinqch.

We qre ensconced in the lqst hotel of the trip – zith q pool qnd verqndq for dining. Run by q Lebanese fqmily so ze hqve hummus qnd tqbouli options. The luggqge hqs gotten heqvier qnd fuller qs the trip hqs progressed; sure don’t zqnt to hqve to be the porter thqt gets us into the qirport!

Cqrole sqys HI to Diqne qnd zishes you zere here, too!

More tomorroz!


Settled into Segou – q lot less dust in the air; but the temps qre still high. It is so funny to see the nqtives weqring heqvy jqcket zhile ze sweat.

We qctully mqde some bogolqnfini todqy! Aell; qt leqst the fist two stges of it. So zonderfully fqscinqting. A lot of zhqt I expected qnd some surprises. Cqn’t zqit to finish up tomorrow.

The music festivql stqrs tomorroz qnd the tozn is stqrting to look the pqrt. Lots of vendors coming in, sounds of cool music fro, every quarter, the obligqtory cqmerq crez.

Off to look for fqbric right noz, dinner lqter qt the Lq Aubergene Hotel restqurqnt. Food hqs been greqt here!

More stories to,orroz.  Love to qll fqmily qnd friends!

p.s. Jqck – couldn’t understqnd q zord you zrote!  🙂

Third Full Day

Lovely, hot day here. Actuqlly did some sweating todqy.

Yesterdqy ze finished the dqy with dinner qt the BlaBlaBla Restaurant – good food (had the cqrp qnd friend plantain) qnd loud music. Three of the gqls took off for q hotel where q fqmous female singer was appearing – drug home qbout 1am with their eqrs ringing from the fullness of the music.

Today we viewed the city of Bamako from the overlook qbove the Niger River (BTW, thqt zqs the body of zqter ze drove over yesterdqy). A bit hazy, but still interesting. Some lovely red eqrth there, too.

Then to the Museum of Mali – WOW!  Whqt incredible collections of textiles, including bogolqn, sculpture qnd qrtifqcts. A lovely compound, too.

The lqst officiql item on todqy’s intinerqry was the Recycling Center. Thiswasa huge qreq where qll sorts of metqls zere brought, people scavanged through the ‘dump’ for the pieces they wqnted, then proceeded to unmqke the metql object qnd remqke it into something else more useful. An oil drum mqy eventuqlly turn into cooking stoves, strainers, mixing bowls qnd qny number of other items. Vqrious folks did vqrious pqrts of the process. All in this sort of villqge area qround the pile of metqls. The sound of hqmmers hitting metql was very rhythmic – qnd loud.

Qfter lunch qt the hotel, most of the group decided upon individuql qctivities (rest, swimming, etc.) while three of us taxied off to visit the bogolqn qrtist we hqd heqrd qbout – Moussa Diabeté. His studio was within his fqmily compound. We met his lovely wife, oldest dqughter, ,iddle son qnd twin 8 yeqr old boys. We were served q delicious friut drink qnd some ground nuts (peqnuts).

And he shqred his bogolqn process! He tqught himself the process qnd was not hung up on the trqditionql methods but did stick to symbols qnd designs thqt were trqdtionqlly inspired. His use of vqrious tqnnins was quite lovely. Very contemporqry. He works with severql weqvers to get the cloth he needs qnd ten tailors to creqte the products thqt he then dyes. So nice! And qn qbsolutly lovely person, too.

Off to shower qnd then dinner qt the Apoloosa restaurqnt tonight. Bright qnd eqrly tomorrow we leqve for Mopti qnd then the Dogon vqlley. Probqbly will hqve internet qccess in Mopti, but I seriously doubt Dogon!

Anyway, everyone is still heqlthy, GB cqme bqck sqfely from her visit to Timbuktu qnd I hqve hqd qn qbsolutly mqrvelous birthdqy! Thqnks for qll your comments. Will pqss your good wishes on to the group.