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What is African Mud Cloth Fabric

What is African Mud Cloth Fabric
what is african mud cloth fabric | SunCoastSea


African mud cloth fabric, a traditional Malian cotton fabric, is gaining international acceptance. It is used to make a wide range of commercial products like African mud cloth throw pillows, curtains, towels, and sheets.

The traditional process of African mud cloth fabric

Under traditional circumstances, men weave the fabric, and women dye it. On narrow looms, strips of cotton fabric of approximately 15cm or 5.9 inches wide are woven by men and stitched together into cloths of around 1 meter or 3feet wide and 1.5 meters or 5 feet long.

The cloth is then dipped into water containing leaves and branches so that the dye binds to the fabric. The dyeing process starts once the cloth is soaked in a bath of dye, which is made from mashed and boiled or soaked leaves of the n'gallama tree, also known as Anogeissus leiocarpa in scientific terms. This tall deciduous tree predominantly grows in the savannahs of tropical Africa. After it has obtained the yellow hue, the cloth is dried under the sun and then painted with designs using pieces of metal or wood.

The paint, which is carefully and repeatedly applied to outline the intricate motifs, is made out of a specific type of mud sourced from river beds and fermented for 12 months inside a clay jar. The chemical reaction between the mud and the dyed cloth causes the brown color to remain after the mud is cleaned off the cloth.

Lastly, the yellow n'gallama dye is removed from the cloth's non-painted sections by applying bleach or soap on them, leaving them white. After extended use, the dark brown color turns into several rich brown tones, whereas the unpainted downside of the fabric remains with a pale russet color.

If you are wondering about the traditional production of your African mud cloth pillows' fabric, the above explanation will help solve your puzzle.

The Magic Linked With Mud Cloth

In Bambara, the Mali people's main language, the word Bogolan means "made from mud." The Bogolan method of dyeing and printing cotton is purely organic and environment-friendly since it is free from toxic chemicals and requires dried plants and fruit as a dye.

The mud cloth fabric is 100% cotton, and it takes a long time to form this kind of cloth. In the past, mud cloth fabric was usually painted by African women in distinctive symbols and patterns. Today, many people worldwide wear mud cloth fabric to stand out and celebrate their unity with African heritage. Also, this fabric is usually used in making African mud cloth pillows and upholstery. All the pieces made out of this fabric are so stunning.

Since African mud cloth fabric is made of pure cotton, which is biodegradable, when it lands in a landfill for whatever reason, it will easily decompose and fertilize the area where it is dumped. This fabric can't pose a threat to plants or animals because it does not contain dangerous chemicals.

The cotton that is present in African mud cloth fabric has great insulation properties. Once you wear a cloth made of African mud cloth fabric, you will get protection against heat from the summer and maximum protection against coldness during winter. The cotton fabric traps air between the fabric fibers. The cotton fibers present in mud clothing hold the clothing away from your skin surface, allowing more air to be trapped between your skin and the fabric, which helps with comfort and insulation.

Uses of African Mud Cloth

  • Used in upholstery furniture. If you are a DIY person, you can give your chair a new look with the help of an African mud cloth. However, if you are not a fan of DIYs, you can buy already made furniture with mud cloth.
  • Mud cloth bedding. You need to experience the beauty of sleeping on bedding designed with symbols and patterns similar to those on African mud cloth. You will feel special and honored by your beddings.
  • Art prints. Art prints are prevalent in enhancing your living space with creativity. They are becoming widely popular in interior design and are utilized in homes, offices, restaurants, bars, and other places. Use art prints made out of African mud cloth fabric because they won’t fade over time.
  • Curtains. Invite the sun into your living room only at free will. Curtains made out of African mud cloth fabric are good at blocking out a large percentage of sunlight from your apartment or condo. Curtains made out of African mud cloth fabric can help provide you with the utmost privacy in your house at night and protection from dust from outside.
  • Bath and skincare. African mud cloth fabric can be used to make and design various bath and skincare products.
  • Throw pillows and blankets. One of the best ways to embrace African mud cloth fabric is by using African mud cloth pillows and blankets because they are neutral and simple. You can use such cloth with most décor styles. Feel free to supplement an organic element of African mud cloth fabric to your pillows and blankets in a modern space to add some warmth to your space.
  • African mud cloth fabric is used in making decorative accessories like earrings, sculptures, among others.
  • The African mud cloth fabric is used to make mud cloth storage bins for your brushes, bottles, dirty clothes, or plants. The mud cloth's artisan makeup on storage bins has various colors and textures, making the bins look unique and worth owning by anyone.

  • Candles and home fragrance. Mud clothing is used to cover the exterior of candle holders and tins of fragrances to give them a fascinating look.

What is the purpose of African mud cloth throw pillows?

These are sizable, decorative, and soft furnishing accessories made out of African mud cloth fabric. These throw pillows are loosely placed on armchairs, sofas, beds, day beds, and floors. They serve functional and aesthetic purposes.

For aesthetic purposes, the decorative pillows are usually used to tie in color accents inside your preferred room, often based on the colors on your walls, drapes, and area rugs. You can use these pillows to create a casual ambiance, especially when they appear like they were thrown into a piece of furniture. 

You can use the African mud cloth throw pillows for neck, back, and head support for functional purposes. Simple throw pillows don't have an opening and are typically loose-filled, and have no insert. Such cushions don't have any additional decoration like piping or tassels.

Most throw pillows have a detachable cover and an insert to form a complete product. You can easily change the pillow insert, remove and wash it whenever it gets too flat or causes skin irritations to you. The covers of African mud cloth throw pillows are usually referred to as throw pillow covers or cushion covers and are typically sold separately from the pillow inserts.

Cushion covers can have a zipper opening, which is available in two variations: an envelope, which you can use to cover the zipper behind, and a hidden zip opening, which you can find at the bottom after reversing the cushion.

The variations of cushion cover zipper openings

  • Concealed envelope opening. This opening has an extra fabric piece on the reverse of the cover and envelopes about 50% of the cushion's back part. You can use the envelope to hide the zip and simplify the work of removing the cushion cover. This kind of zipper opening utilizes more African mud cloth fabric, especially when the reverse of the African mud cloth pillow has a pattern that needs matching. Concealed envelope openings are common on pillow covers that don’t have piped edges.
  • Hidden zip opening. This opening variation is the hidden opening found at the bottom and reverse side of the cushion. The hidden zip opening is usually utilized with pillow covers with piping to hide the African mud cloth fabric's zip. This variation uses less African mud cloth fabric than the envelope opening.

African Mud Cloth Throw Pillows: Using them to help you design any living room

These sustainable and cruelty-free throw pillows provide the perfect firmness for your couch. They come in various sizes and colors to provide a beautiful contrast to other pieces of furniture in any room in your home.

Made in beautiful African Designs. African mud cloth throw pillows are made out of African mud cloth fabric by artisans who use brushes to create beautiful, traditional African designs on them. Every design painted on these fabrics depicts African tradition and carries deep meaning. There are fabric designs that relate to the families of the artisans who them while others have simple meanings, such as the concentric circle design.

There are African mud cloth pillows painted with aesthetic symbols and patterns representing the following;

  • Wealth and luxury. In traditional West African culture, pillow fabrics with symbols of wealth and luxury represent the pillows of rich women from Mauritania. These women were extremely wealthy since they didn't have to work hard and could only rest their heads on pillows bearing such symbols.
  • Superiority. Mudcloth pillow fabrics painted with symbols and patterns of superiority were used by women in traditional Africa to exhibit their superiority to their co-wives. But in today's modern world, these patterns are common on fabrics, and not every woman or man using or wearing a piece of fabric with such symbols is after proving her superiority.
  • Bravery and fearlessness. In African traditional society, the pattern representing bravery and fearlessness was used on soldiers' belts before they went to the battlefield.
  • Prosperity. The mud cloth symbol and pattern used to show prosperity in the African past were the calabash flowers. This pattern was used to show the prosperity of the calabash flowers.
  • Good fortune. The symbol that was used to depict good fortune in traditional Africa is called Iguana's elbow. An Iguana was believed to lead a hunter into deep waters, and it was also symbolic of African people who were at the battlefield with foreign opponents.

African mud cloth throw pillows are made to offer you comfort and attractive living space.

After buying a new mud cloth throw pillow, it may feel stiff. But since it is made out of cotton fabric and natural vegetable dyes, it only takes a few uses for it to feel softer, and it keeps getting softer the longer you continue to use it. This attribute makes these pillows a great accessory for your living room couches as they become cozier over time to provide you with a good lounging experience.

Feel free to pair, style, and arrange the African mud cloth pillow covers in any color and design you want to uplift your living room's appearance.

How to Care For Your African Mud Cloth Throw Pillows

Only wash your African mud cloth throw pillows when necessary.

Wash these pillows with chemical-free soap and clean cold water whenever they look dirty and hang them dry. If you notice hard stains on them, you need to take these throw pillows to your preferred dry cleaner to perform a thorough cleaning job on them for you. It is not advisable to wash your African mud cloth throw pillows in a washing machine as this may damage their fabric and reduce their durability.

When washing your African mud cloth throw pillows, gently submerge the mud cloth fabric and stir gently, leaving it to sit for around 5 minutes. Remove the African mud cloth throw pillow fabric and gently rinse out all the excess water. Hang the cloth dry or lay flat. You can iron on the back of the fabric on a low cotton flat iron setting if you want.

NOTE: If you want to set the African mud cloth pillow fabric color and reduce its fading or transferring, you can include a small amount of vinegar in the cold water while washing.


Yes, trends come and vanish, and styles keep changing, but artisan-made fabrics and textiles like the African mud cloth fabric are always timeless. African mud cloth fabrics carry so much history, tradition, spirit, and technique in them that even if they become saturated in today's competitive world, you can still say "yes" to them.

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