The traditional cloth of Mali is called bogolan or b˛g˛lanfini, known more commonly as mud cloth. While traditionally worn as clothing, mud cloth is now being crafted into many different types of items including drawstring handbags, scarves passport bags and coats.
Traditionally men weave the white cotton and women create the intricate designs, although the roles have become interchangeable today. It starts out as hand spun cotton, made on site. Then an elaborate process of dying with the mud and bark takes place. The cloth is hand woven and dyed by an age old process using local flora and mud.
The dying, pattern cutting and sewing of these bags is done by the women. The fabric is first bleached white This substance has only a tiny bit of what we know as bleach in it, and is mostly made from a plant-based substance.
It is said that mud cloth was first discovered when a hunter chased an antelope into a river and got mud on his tunic. When his wife tried to clean the tunic, she could not remove the mud stains. This river was in the northern part of Mali and it is from this region that the mud is "harvested" for use in mud cloth due to the particular acid and mineral levels found in this region.
Colors are made naturally in earthy colors, such as browns, ochre, brownish yellows and designs are varied.