Textiles in Mali

by Rachel Hoffman
Formerly University of California, Los Angeles

Women dyeing cotton thread, Dogon peoples, village of Andakanda, Mali. Photo by Rachel Hoffman.

 

Although in various locales both men and women engage in the dye process, at Andakanda village it is the women who are responsible for indigo dyeing. After spinning hundreds of meters of cotton thread over what may be a period of weeks, months, or even years, the spindles and skeins are loosened so that when dipped into indigo, every fiber is exposed to the dye. In a side courtyard of a family's living compound, two women unfurl spun cotton ready to be dyed, and clay pots containing the dye substances sit ready for use. It is worth noting that while the women continue to perform an activity handed down from earlier generations, they choose to wear clothing not of locally spun, dyed, and woven cloth, but rather blouses and skirts fashioned from machine-made fabric.