Textiles in Mali

by Rachel Hoffman
Formerly University of California, Los Angeles

A Fulani weaver at Mbuna village displays some of his work, Mali. Photo by Rachel Hoffman.


The blanket is made of narrow strips, here, not yet sewn, but rather tacked together along the selvages; sewing the selvages together will be the job of the new owner. The warp is of undyed local cotton. The weft, which pattern, combines a variety of fibers and dyes; the white is the same undyed cotton as the warp, but the black undyed wool from a rare black sheep. The blue, red, and ocher—all wool—are colored, respectively, from indigo, hibiscus, and bark. Such a blanket is woven as part of a Songhai girl's dowry and may have up to twelve strips, the finished product often measuring more than nine by fifteen feet. The weaver’s skill is apparent in how closely he has managed to align the weft stripes.