To celebrate our exciting collaboration with Topology Interiors, (see more below) we’re delving into the origin of one of our favourite fabrics, mudcloth. It’s no secret we’re huge lovers of fabrics from all around the world. In the Oh What’s This shop at the moment we have an eclectic mix of Moroccan wedding blanket cushions and poufs, turkish peshtemals, and our favourite of the moment, mudcloth cushions. Rather than take you on a round-the-world trip in one blog post, (no one has time to read an essay) we’re going to transport you to West Africa instead for a speedy 5 minute tête-à-tête on the history of exquisite mudcloth, as well as how to style it.
Left, Mudcloth Cushion £42, White Mudcloth Cushion £42, Arrow Mudcloth £44, Indigo Mudcloth Cushion £40, White & Black Mudcloth Cushion £42 , Vintage Mudcloth Cushion £40
These cushions in the shop now are handmade by Live Love Smile, all from mudcloth fabric she sources from around the world.
Use code: TOPOLOGY10 to get 10% off the white mudcloth triangle cushion ;). As well as these dalmatian coasters and this wild cheetah cushion.
THE ORIGIN OF MUDCLOTH
African mudcloth is a traditional handmade textile from Mali in West Africa, dating all the way back to the 12th Century. It’s made from narrow strips of woven cotton, hand stitched together to form one whole piece of cloth. This piece of mudcloth is then hand printed in patterns and symbols using a variety of natural dyes from the earth. The amazing thing is that each mudcloth is unique and no two are exactly the same.
SO IS IT MADE OUT OF MUD?
The word bògòlanfini is a composition of three words: Bogo, meaning “earth” or “mud,” lan, meaning “with” and fini, meaning “cloth.” This is the Bambara language, spoken in Mali. And translated it means “mudcloth.” The dyes used are made from mud which is rich in iron to create black colours and plants that create a range of colours.
Traditionally, the men weave the cloth and the women dye it. Once the strips of woven cloth (usually cream colored) are sewn together, the women follow a crazy long 4 step dyeing process.
YOUR CUSHIONS MEAN THINGS
There are hidden stories, events and proverbs in each mudcloth pattern, passed down among family crafters. Originally the mudcloth symbols were secret codes within communities never to be revealed, and there are still some which remain untranslated. OH the mystery!
HOW DID IT BECOME SO STYLISH WORLDWIDE?
After the Malian fight for independence in the 1970s, Bògòlanfini, as well as many other cultural traditions sadly diminished. A decade later it was rediscovered, and became a tourist product making it’s way to the United states. Chris Seydou is said to have been a large part of the movement in bringing Bògòlanfini back to fashion with his mudcloth inspired catwalk creations.
HOW TO STYLE MUDCLOTH AT HOME
Mudcloth is perfect for adding some contemporary bohemian style to a room. And the key is, layer, layer layer. Don’t be afraid to mix colours and all the different patterns, they all work together. Amber Interiors do mudcloth amazingly. Have a look at this inspiration: