Awale Mag

Magazine for Africa's Creativity

Auteur/Author: Lucrèce GANDIGBE

Discovering Bogolan

Bogolan is a textile native to West Africa mainly Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. Etymologically, the term bogolan comes from the Bambara word ‘bogo’ ‘and’ ‘lan’ respectively meaning ‘earth’ ‘and’ ‘with’ ‘. It is a tissue whose making and wearing are rooted in African traditions. But where does the bogolan tradition comes from?

The origins of bogolan

Legend says that a woman wearing a loincloth with a n’galama complexion would accidentally stained it with mud of the River Niger. Trying to clean it, she notices that the mud dyed her loincloth and that the mark is indelible. The discovery of bogolan therefore comes from this fortuitous event. Bogolan became a tradition in many ethnic groups in West Africa such as the Bambara, Dogon, Bobo, Senufo and Miniankas and Malinke. Each of these groups has its own patterns and styles through the ages. But how can we explain this alchemy between the clay of the River Niger and cotton?

A meticulous and very artistic achievement

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The dyes used for bogolan are fully mineral and plant (tree bark, tree leaves …). They contain no chemical intake. The artisan sits down in front of the back of her gourd that serves as support. All her instruments to trace are also nearby (trace-lines (kalama) more or less fine, metal spatulas, millet stalks, palmyra, feathers, brushes). The fabric to use is traditionally prepared by the weavers. These are wide strip of cotton fabric which are subsequently stitched together. Once the outfit is prepared, it is dyed generally with n’galama to give it a background color and to enable the fixing of other colors. After rinsing and drying, the clay is applied to it, designing original patterns. After the dyeing, the cloth is dried in the sun. When it is finally dried, the garment is washed to remove its hues residues. It is a long process that requires patience and dexterity. African women used to make it for their men hunting outfits, parties, parades … The dresses patterns and color were intended for a particular use.

Bogolan today

In an industrialized society dominated by Western fashion, bogolan was somewhat relayed to the closet. Fortunately the cumulative effects of the Malian government and some associations have helped to preserve this cultural heritage. In particular, a young Malian named Chris Seydou, internationally renowned as a fashion designer has managed to bring the Bogolan out of African borders. Fifteen years or so, his bogolan jackets, vests, pants, scarves, dresses were present on the biggest podiums of the world. The word ” Bogolan ” became the most known Bambara word. This created a strong demand for the product. Facing a more and more increasing demand, women of our tribes are no more the only ones to make bogolan. New techniques have emerged. The bogolan technique is now used on other materials such as linen, cretonne, bazin. At AwaleBiz we offer a wide variety of bogolan products thanks to our partner Sugnu Store.

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Bogolan declined in several aspects at Sugnu Store

Sugnu Store a bogolan specialist for many years offers various items around this rich fabric. A large colorful African products carefully selected for your pleasure. Among the different products that are available, you will find cushions, throws, placemats, paintings; dresses … All these items are available in several patterns and copies. You can get what you want on your online store Awalebiz. So have you made a choice? Which product of Sugnu Store do you prefer? Tell us in comments.

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Auteur/Author: Lucrèce GANDIGBE

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