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Bogolanfini: Printing with soil

Bògòlanfini is a skill practiced specifically in the country of Mali. It is the dying of handmade Malian clothing and fabrics. The dyes are made from mud which is rich in iron to create black colors and plants that create a range of colors.

Bogolanfini Soil Printing
Figure: Bògòlanfini is the dying of handmade Malian clothing and fabrics. Courtesy: WorthPoint

In traditional bògòlanfini production, men weave the cloth and women dye it. On narrow looms, strips of cotton fabric about 15 centimeters (5.9 in) wide are woven and stitched into cloths about 1 meter (3 ft) wide and 1.5 meters (5 ft) long.

In traditional Malian culture, bògòlanfini is worn by hunters and serves as camouflage, ritual protection and a badge of status. Women are wrapped in bògòlanfini after their initiation into adulthood (which includes genital cutting) and immediately after childbirth, as the cloth is believed to have the power to absorb the dangerous forces released under such circumstances.

Today, both women and men make mud cloth for sale in markets, and Malian students study it at the art academy. The pieces of bogolan shown below are the kind of relatively inexpensive mud cloth made for both domestic uses and for the trade. They are sold in assorted patterns. The Malian fashion designer Chris Seydou has been credited with popularizing bògòlanfini in international fashion.

Bògòlanfini Methodology
Figure 2: Methodology of Bògòlanfini.

Main uses

  • Bògòlanfini is made into a wide range of clothes, including Western miniskirts and jackets as well as traditional flowing robes.
  • In Mali, the cloth is worn by people of all ethnicities, including prominently in Malian cinema and by Malian musicians.
  • Bògòlanfini is also produced as fine art by several Malian artists, notably by the Groupe Bogolan Kasobané, six artists collaborating since 1978.
  • Traditional bògòlanfini designs are also used for on a wide range of commercial products, such as coffee mugs, curtains, towels, sheets, book covers and wrapping paper.

Bangladesh can use this method

With the change of era, people’s attitudes, choice and demands also have been changed. The tendency of the young generation of the country or the western country is now towards fusion fashion. Fashion lovers want to get out of the traditional style and wear new things.

So, manufacturing this kind of printing will attract the young generation and others. This kind of skill will attract tourists too.

In Bangladesh we have plenty of resources for this kind of printing, that’s why it will be easier to practice in the country. Besides, it is environmentally friendly where traditional textile printing is costly and ink used during fabric printing is harmful to the environment.

In Mali, they produce large quantities of cloth for the tourist market. Every year a lot of tourists come here in Bangladesh and if we starts this kind of printing a new industry can be established in the country which will solve the unemployment problem of many people.


Bogolanfini is an ancient printing method made of fermented soil. Today, bogolanfini is a matter of national pride in Mali. Malian people would live comfortably without Bògòlanfini, but their culture would not be the same.

From this observation, many of the steps involved in the mud-cloth process require equal participation of both man and woman, and that would be lost without Bògòlanfini. They are able to communicate and tell stories to their children through this art. The reason they will live comfortably is that it does not affect their survival. I think Malians would live fine but Bògòlanfini is good for their well being and cultural substance.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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