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The Colors of Mudcloth and What They Mean

03/29/2009 16:28

Mudcloth is a traditional African fabric. It is so treasured in other parts of the world that it is also one of the major exports of Mali, West Africa. It is famous for its distinctive look and also for the rich symbolism behind each piece. Each piece of mudcloth tells a story; each symbol and each color has a specific meaning. Pieces of mudcloth are passed down from mother to daughter, and are used to celebrate important life events like births, marriages, and deaths. Warriors sometimes wear red mudcloth in battle decorated with leather symbols. Mudcloth is also used as camouflage in hunting. 

What the Colors Represent: Rust - Represents the strong supernatural powers that protect the hunter. It also signifies blood from either the hunt or from warfare and is a useful form of camouflage. White - Worn by women during ceremonies. The most typical color of mudcloth is black with a white background. This is the kind of mudcloth most commonly used in storytelling. 

What makes the different colors? Tree bark makes the light brown color, while mud makes the dark brown/black color. White is the absence of mud, and is made by applying a special soap and a touch of bleach (which speeds up the process). Then the fixer, from a tree bark, creates the yellowish color. 

To find out more about how mudcloth is made Click Here. To find a big selection of mudcloth to order just visit the Africa Imports or Click Here