Textiles in Mali

by Rachel Hoffman
Formerly University of California, Los Angeles

Two looms, Dogon peoples, village of Banba, Mali. Photo by Rachel Hoffman.


At Banba near Bandiagara, weavers work at their looms during the four days when the market is elsewhere. From a distance, we see two looms: the one on the right vacant, the one on the left in use. Structurally, a Dogon loom consists of eight to ten tree limbs bound with cord into a rectangular frame about five feet in height, eight feet in length, and four feet in width-inside of which a weaver sits. He is sheltered from the sun by trees or, more commonly, a roof made of matting. In narrow strip weaving, the width (or weft) of a strip may be as narrow as one inch or as wide as twelve inches, and the strip's length (or warp) may be half a mile or more. The Banba weaver has the threads of his warp laid out in front of his loom and twisted into a skein that will be unwound as he weaves the weft back and forth and creates cloth, which may then be cut and sewn together at the selvages.