Mali: The Dayo Collection

Our Dayo Mudcloth Collection comes to you from Africa. Each piece is hand-spun, hand-dyed, hand-painted and 100% authentic.

A mudcloth or bògòlanfini, is one of the best known African cloth traditions dating back to the 12th century. In the Bambara language, spoken in Mali, the word bògòlanfini is a composition of three words. Bogo, meaning “earth” or “mud,” lan, meaning “with” and fini, meaning “cloth.” The word is translated as “earth or mud with cloth.”

Each textile is hand-spun in Mali from organic cotton and the fabric is hand-dyed throughout multiple processes using leaves, branches, and fermented mud from the Niger River.

This craft requires skill to dye, dry, paint, wash, and dry the cloth (again), but more importantly, the artisans need an in-depth knowledge of the local environment and its resources. From the dye colour each native tree leaf produces to the fermentation process of mud, it’s a complex and beautiful process.

The thing that makes mudcloth so special is that each piece has a story to tell. The arrangement of the symbols on the cloth reveals something secret about the intended meaning, and this language of the cloth was passed down from mother to daughter. To view what some of the symbols mean, click here for a handy glossary.

How it’s made

First, narrow strips of cotton are handwoven (typically cream in colour), which are then dyed in a bath full of tree branches and leaves. The branches and leaves dye the cloth a yellowish hue.

Next, the cloth is dried in the sun, where it is decorated with dark mud. Once the mud has turned grey, the cloth is washed to remove excess mud.  This process is repeated multiple times in order to achieve the desired colour. The mud itself is mixed with a water or tea substance and set aside for a year before it is put to use on cloth.

The patterns are painted on using a special mud collected from ponds during the previous seasons and left to ferment.  This process is repeated multiple times in order to achieve the desired colour. The light areas are painted with a bleaching agent and left to dry in the sun for over a week.  When the bleach is washed off, what remains is the characteristic white pattern.

When Brooke got the opportunity to travel the east coast of Africa the scenery, wilderness, local handcrafts and communities captivated her. She felt at home there. We are thrilled to be able to support a small, hardworking community from both Mali (where the mudcloths are made) and Ghana (where the cushions are sewn) and bring their local craft to your home.

‘Dayo’ means ‘joy or happiness has arrived’ and we hope these unique pieces bring happiness to your home.