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African mudcloth is a traditional Malian fabric that is dyed with fermented mud and plant dyes. This ornately patterned fabric can take four days to a week to make, depending on humidity, rain, and weather conditions.
We offer several types of mudcloth, both modern and traditional, on our African Decor page.
Artisans begin by soaking cotton cloth in a dye bath of tree leaves. Historically, the cloth is sun-dried then painted repeatedly with fermented mud, which chemically reacts with the tree leaves and leaves the cloth a rich brown even after the mud is washed off. Unpainted parts of the mudcloth are washed or bleached off to reveal intricate designs.
Frequently the cotton used for mudcloth is locally grown and of an un-dyed, beige color. The knit is looser and more dense than commercial fabric.
Modern versions of African mud cloth involve dying the cloth with a different type of tree leaf solution, then painting over it with black and white designs. A orange-colored solution form the bark of the M'Peku tree gives these modern fabrics a deep russet color. We offer several African mud cloth products, directly imported from Mali, that can be found on our African Home Decor & Art page. Below are some pictures of our mudcloths for sale and those which adorn our personal homes and office spaces.