In the beginning, the mud cloth was reserved for a social class, the hunters. The hunters were typically men. It was to disguise themselves by changing their scent. Among the hunters, there were some creative spirits, so they added designs.
Women have become a part of not just the weaving but also the culture. That's something that has evolved. Only now have women started doing mud cloth.
My name is Habibou Coulibaly. I named the business "Coulibaly and Brothers". Everyone who works here I consider my brothers.
First I learned the dyeing process with my grandmother. I went to Mali to perfect my skill with mud cloth.This tree is called Sigamore. We collect the leaves. There are some other dyes but it is not the season but we have the branches at our house. Now the brush strokes we put down to decorate the areas without designs. Here is trying to finish and this color is red. When he is done he will put it in the sun. I am applying the fixative. Afterwards I will add earth so that the tracing is black. So he already has a cloth with fixative. Now he is adding his designs on the cloth using earth and with what we call a stencil. All the work that we do, every time we put down fixative, 3 times, we put down mud, the colors and every time we are done we wash it with water. And then we do the work over again, fixative 3 times, mud, 2-3 colors, and again wash.
Free trade has allowed us to get paid justly for our work. It has changed our lives a lot. It allowed us to unite, to find work, and to make a living. Before, everyone was walking barefoot. Now everyone has a means of transport.
We have here what I call the permanent team, composed of eight people. When we have orders we hire more people. We have 25-30 people working in the shop.
The women made a design like this: the teeth of a jealous husband. We call this design "The Road of a Man Who Does Not Pay His Debts". So he starts walking like this until he sees someone he owes, then he goes this way. He sees Coulibaly, then he goes this way. This represents gathering. That means when we harvest we place the food here.
Keep in mind that they are not only buying a product, they are also assisting in development. Buying products reduces unemployment. So the customer is fighting poverty. Don't just look at the price of a product, but see most of all the energy of the artisan.
Perhaps the most uplifting part of the Olympics each year is the Parade of Nations. Each country enters the arena proudly carrying their flag, and some, like Ghana, come out in high style. Ghana could not be missed.
Their stunning entrance was thanks to the vibrant colors and intricate patterns of kente fabric.
Kente is the most recognized African fabric and is artistically woven by the Asante people of Ghana and the Ewe people of Ghana and Togo. Kente prints like those worn by the Ghana Olympics Team are much cheaper and easier to find than woven kente. (You can browse the gorgeous kente print in the Tess World Designs shop.)
5 things you need to know about kente cloth
1. Kente is woven in strips that are about 10 cm wide. To create a cloth big enough to wear, strips are sewn together.
Image: by vickisee via Flickr CC
2. Kente patterns are not just beautiful; traditionally, each pattern has a different meaning. (Don't worry--we'll share these in a future blog post.)
3. Traditionally, kente is worn for special occasions, draped over the shoulders like a toga for men, and wrapped around the torso and waist for women. Nowadays, you'll find kente in everyday life and used as patterns for hats, shoes, and other accessories.
Image: kente3 by John Nash via Flickr CC
Image: kente57 by John Nash via Flickr CC 4. The origin of the word kente is highly contested.It is not the original word used by any of the tribes who create this cloth. The Asante people call the strip-woven cloth ntama or ntoma, and the Ewe people call this cloth avɔ or ɖo.
5. No matter where you come from, kente will look good on you!
Image: Kente by Utenriksdepartementet UD via Flickr CC
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t perfect Erykah Badu’s headwrap in three minutes. But if you’re in a hurry, or just learning to wrap your hair, you can create this super-easy “hat wrap” without the blood, sweat and tears.
Step 1: Lay out your square piece of headwrap fabric.
Step 2: Fold the square diagonally, leaving the longest end facing you.
Step 3: Fold up the longest end so you have a rectangular fold a few inches in height. (This rectangle will be the front of your hat wrap. You can increase or decrease this height to achieve different looks.) The wrap should now look like a boat.
Step 4: Pick up the wrap and pull the two long flaps around your head. (The rectangular fold should be facing outward, not against your forehead.)
Step 5: Tie the two flaps together. Bring the triangular piece from the top of the wrap down and underneath the knot. (Or reverse: pull down the triangular piece first and then tie the two flaps over it.)
Step 6: Tie the two flaps into a knot and tuck the ends underneath the wrap.
This blog page will be updated periodically with information on new arrivals, fashion news, and other pertinent information to help maximize your online shopping experience at Tess World Designs! In the meantime...