Skip Navigation

 Museum Explorer

Tools and technology in Africa

Mud cloth

Length: 136.000 cm
Width: 83.000 cm

AOA 1956.Af27.10

Mud cloth

From: Mali, West Africa
Date: mid-20th century

The Bamana (or Bambara) people have an unusual way of colouring their cloth. First it is dyed yellow, then patterns are painted on it with mud. The cloth is then bleached, but the mud protects the dye and when the mud is washed out, the pattern is still there in the yellow.

The shapes like squares and circles are often based on animals or other things from nature. Can you see the zigzags? This pattern is known as 'the legs of a cricket'.