Textiles in Mali

by Rachel Hoffman
Formerly University of California, Los Angeles

Strips of indigo dyed cotton textiles arranged for sale, Mali. Photo by Rachel Hoffman.


A weaver, who lays a warp of alternating dyed and undyed threads and then weaves a weftof alternating dyed and undyed threads, can create simple squares, more complex checkerboards, or ginghams of various sizes. Strips of differently woven patterns may be combined into a visually striking piece of cloth. Indigo-dyed warp-pattern strips of locally grown and spun cotton are visible at the lower right; boloti (a warp-pattern swatch woven of commercial machine-made cotton thread) lies atop banded strips of more complex design. Note the difference in textures between local cotton and boloti. Easily available commercial cotton has, in many regions, begun to replace the homegrown variety, which, as a crop dependent on natural rainfall, is uneven in production.