Textiles in Mali

by Rachel Hoffman
Formerly University of California, Los Angeles

Materials and equipment for dyeing with indigo, Mali. Photo by Rachel Hoffman.


Two pots are filled with mordant. Into one of the pots chunks of botanical indigo are dissolved and left to ferment; over the course of several days, the vegetable matter dissolves, and the familiar deep blue develops. The undyed thread, which has been resting in a mordant bath, is wrung out and then soaked for several days in the indigo-filled pot (center). The dyer stirs the pot occasionally, and once the fibers have absorbed the color, they are placed in a potash or base solution to neutralize the acid and reseal the cuticle layer.