illustrated village including buildings and a woman

Mud Cloth

beaded necklace pictograph

Locally-made mud cloth is cotton cloth decorated and dyed with natural materials that blend into the colors of the Senufo landscape. Originally, the clothes made from mud cloth were worn only by hunters, who appreciated the cloth's natural camouflaging ability. Now up to one-quarter of the population wears mud cloth as everyday clothing. Though more expensive, the cloth is popular with non-hunters because it does not show dirt. Mothers will wrap their babies to their backs using large, rectangular mud cloths.

a mud cloth that depicts a woman braiding another woman's hair
This mud cloth shows one woman braiding another woman's hair. Notice how the standing woman has her baby cradled in a mud cloth wrapped around her body.

Making Mudcloth

Mud cloths are made of 100% cotton that is locally grown, spun, and woven. Before the colonization of Africa by Europeans, cotton was grown in small amounts for local use. Now, it is the main cash crop of the Senufo, which means that most of the cotton is raised to be sold to other countries.

Through observation and practice, anyone in the village can learn to make a mud cloth. Some, though, are recognized as having special talent in this area. These individuals will sell their cloth to a much wider market, some as far away as Europe. With this expansion of trade to other continents, some artists have begun signing their work.

children watching a weaver weave
Children watch a weaver at work.
a mother, father, and their child sitting
Mud cloth artist Soungalo Bangali and his family.