By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)
Bogolanfini, a mud-dyed cloth made by the Bamana and related Malian groups, is traditionally worn to mark participation in specific events or occupations. Girls wear the cloth after excision, for it is believed to afford protection from malevolent forces that may harm young girls when they are most vulnerable. It is also worn by hunters, men who have special status in Bamana society because of their ability to brave the dangers of the wilderness. Wearing of the cloth may be viewed as an assertion of one’s abilities as a hunter; until recently, bogolanfini would not have been worn by non-hunters, for to do so would be to assume a status to which one is not entitled. Like Asante adinkra cloth, bogolanfini’s designs have specific meanings, so that the cloth can serve as a source of information about Bamana history and mythology.