This cotton plain weave cloth dyed with dark indigo is typical of the domestic textiles made by the peoples, particularly the Bamana and Fulbe, who live along the bend of the Niger River. Purchased in 1971 from a trader in Mali, it was probably used to cover beds and couches or cushion the floor. Like other textiles from the region, this type of domestic cloth is traded extensively.
Stripes are a pattern easily achieved on the West African narrow-strip loom makes stripes a common design. By rapidly tossing his shuttle, the weaver simply alternates using rows of light and dark cross (weft) threads. With skill, he makes the ends of each strip even and the blocks align. The patterns on this pieces suggest a tradition that can be traced both to North Africa and to an archaeological site in the Bandiagara Cliffs region of Mali. The narrowing of the stripes at the ends of the cloth is also a practice found among among Asante weavers in more recent times.
Blanket type, 6 stripes of white machine thread warp with heavy indigo weft. Hand spun white and indigo weft bands across the entire cloth with short twisted warp tassels. Well washed and used.
Venice and Alastair Lamb, England, purchased Mali, 1971 to 1983
Patterns of Life: West African Strip-Weaving Traditions, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., September 28, 1987-February 29, 1988
Gilfoy, Peggy. 1987. Patterns of Life: West African Strip Weaving Traditions. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, p. 50, no. 1.