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.