BOGOLANFINI: STICKS, STONES, ROOTS, AND BONES

By 800 C.E., the Ghanaian empire began to flourish due to the development of extensive trade routes in Northern Africa and the discovery of gold throughout the region. Many smaller groups developed into communities in Southern Africa as a result. The Malian empire became large and powerful after the fall of the Ghanaian people in 11 C.E. By 1200 C.E. Mali was the largest empire in West Africa and profoundly influenced the region’s culture through the spread of its language, laws, and customs. The Mali wore hand printed cloths called Bogolanfini or mud cloth. Each cloth had arrangements of symbols revealing something secret about its intended meaning. The language of the cloth was passed down from mother to daughter along with specific motifs. Men were responsible for weaving the narrow strips of plain fabric that were pieced together into a larger rectangular cloth.

Bogo= “earth” or “mud”

Lan= “with”

Fini= “cloth”