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Bògòlanfini

Selvedge

Our distribution manager, Ronja Brown,  is something of a jetsetter and sent us this blog from Gambia... We wandered off in search of a new adventure and found ourselves in the crowded market stalls of Bakau, Gambia, in West Africa. While raking the stalls for hidden treasures we stumbled across some lovely bògòlanfini. To those not familiar with the term, perhaps the description mud cloth might ring a bell. Originating from Mali, it's a dye resist cloth made with narrow strips of thick, mostly hand woven cotton that are stitched together. Although it is a resist technique it shouldn't be confused with batik. Bògòlanfini is first boiled with natural dyes from tree bark and leaves, and then a paste of fermented mud is used to paint patterns. The oxidization of the mud when combined with the dyes creates a dusty black colour once washed and sun dried. Bògòlanfini’s signature is the bold graphic prints, traditionally drawn free hand though today stencils often do the trick. The geometric patterns are stylized from natural objects and animals. There’s also a rumour saying that most designs have intentional mistakes which disrupt the pattern to represent codes and secret messages known only to the designers and makers themselves. The colour palette offers rich browns, yellows, subtle greys, as well as black and white, which is the original combination. If you did not recognize the name, there’s a good chance you might have still caught a glimpse of some restyled bògòlanfini – Pinterest is full of the trendy black & white pattern in modern décor. And although it has made waves in fashion design in Mali since the 1980’s (pioneered by fashion designer Chris Seydou) mud cloth has also had fashion moments on the international runways including Givenchy S/S in 2007 and Oscar De La Renta  S/S 2008. And the jackets at the Donna Karan SS 2014 seemed to have taken a leaf from the bògòlanfini book too! In the end, after the day spent under the hot African sun, we couldn’t resist the dusty charms of bògòlanfini, and brought home a beautiful bedspread.  


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