How African Mud Cloth Colors Represent the Spirit and Culture of Africa
The old days…
I have always believed that Black and white creates a strange dreamscape that color never can. When we think back to the days when life was simpler, we may dream of a time when everything was in black and white, just like the classics, such as Charlie Chaplin’s Silent Movie production, that made him one of the most well-known and beloved actors of all time.
His films gained exponential admiration around the world, and even though he was born in London in 1889, he gained United States citizenship in 1952. The colors black and white in film then, was the dominant theme in visual productions. Before TV was invented, people had to get by with only black and white. Today, we are used to the world being full of color. Every culture around the world appreciates color and identifies it with a meaning.
There is no one African culture. Africa is a continent composed of 54 countries with numerous ethnic groups within each country. While there are common themes in most African cultures, be aware that each ethnic group has its own particular culture, language, and traditions. As we always show you the magic that is only found in Africa, we also remember that it is a canvas of color and art. It is a continent that has been painted by the hands of many… a place where people have always been free to express themselves in their own way, with their own style and technique. This is especially true because of the accumulated popularity of African music, healing elements found in flora and fauna, and natural products appreciated on a global scope, - in hotels, homes, embassies, restaurants, etc.; all for a good cause. Creating awareness of the benefits of choosing natural life, reducing our carbon footprint, supporting artisans in the local communities and appreciating rich generational talent. Simply put, going back to nature and once again choosing her everlasting gifts.
It is this diversity that makes Africa so beautiful and it is this diversity that we want to share with you through our articles. This Easter season, diversity takes us to one of the largest empires in the history of Africa – Mali. The original home of the Bogolanfini, a unique type of fabric known as mud cloth. Stemming from three words: Bogo, meaning earth or mud, lan meaning with and fini meaning cloth, this fabric dyed with mud represented a deep spiritual and symbolic life force meaning to the highly organized people of this north African country in the Sahara Desert region. They dyed the mud cloth with different colors, and with spirit of the Easter season in the air, here’s how Bogolanfini colors represent the spirit of Africa, and see why getting one could be an amazing addition for the Easter gifting season.
RED / RUST
Symbolism… a key factor when looking into African arts and traditions, cultures and societies. Symbols have been used for centuries in various cultures and religions. They have been used to represent emotions, feelings, and concepts that are difficult to put into words. Rust is a strong brown colour, sometimes with a reddish or yellowish tinge. The color red too, has an incredible number of renditions worldwide. The red mud cloth ornamented with leather talismans, symbolized the powers that protect them. Red also symbolized the lifeblood of creation.
Source : shop
Before this color became more pronounced in today’s contemporary world, with different additions added to the mix of dyes, the rust-like color meant a great deal to the communities represented, remembering that every symbol meant something. This rust color represented the strong supernatural powers that protected the hunter. It also signifies blood from either the hunt or from warfare and is a useful form of camouflage.
Source : shop
Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the color of fire and blood – energy and primal life forces – and most of red's symbolism today arises from its powerful associations in the past. But today, it is the color of passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. A very bold statement that when placed anywhere, creates that assertive tone in the room... conveying confidence.
BLACK & WHITE
Mali was the largest empire in West Africa, profoundly and widely influencing the culture of the region. The color white has so many meanings, with different interpretations. White is color of peace, purity, and hope. In Africa, it stands for innocence and non-violence. A symbol of life and hope that also means to "let go." The color white has a long history in Africa. It is associated with the unknown. Some... death. Death was a stage traversed in life, a gateway to the next life. It is also seen as a symbol of power and authority. In some African cultures, it is associated with purity, cleanliness and virginity because it’s not stained by dirt or grime. Many cultures have different interpretations of white, but all share a common understanding that it stands for something important.
Source : shop
To the people of Mali, mud cloths dyed white were worn by women during ceremonies. The most typical color of mud cloth is black with a white background. This is the kind of mud cloth most commonly used in storytelling. Black symbolizes spiritual energy and maturity. It also denotes the unknown... an absence of color, just like white. Mud cloth patterns are rich with meaning for the Bamana people of Mali; as they symbolized the use of the cloth and conveyed messages to the wearer. Secret messages.
Source : shop
With white symbolizing the unknown, a new life or turning a new leaf… this white and black mud cloth design - as was in the days of the greatest kingdom to ever exist - is a great addition to your collection, or gift to a loved one. This Easter period, white represents purity, innocence, and new beginnings. Yellow, a hue found on this fabric is a color that stands for hope and joy in the future. You see, products can be functional without meaning, but they can never be meaningful without being functional. A product's function and meaning are inextricably linked, just as these mud cloth pillow covers double as functional and meaningful to whoever has them in their collection. Nothing created by artists in Africa is without function.
Have you seen the various colors and sizes of the African mud cloth we have? For the culture ✊🏿