The artist paints the cloth using a specially fermented mud-based and natural vegetal pigment (each element is grown, produced, or mined locally) that darkens over time, and the designs are usually drawn on using a stencil.
The paintings are usually decorated with drawings or symbols representing humans, natural elements like the sun, moon and stars and animals, all of which are deeply rooted in Senufo culture and mythology. The Senufo use the finished cloth as a shield against evil or unwanted spirits, by wearing or hanging them in their homes or shrines. The painted cloth is also commissioned for hunters (important heroic figures) and rite of passage events like funerals or poro initiations.
Men and women are involved in the fabrication of the cloth. Both cultivate the cotton in the local region. The women are responsible for spinning the cotton into yarn and preparing the natural dyes, while men typically weave and decorate the cloth. Upon competition, the fabric is often used for clothing, decor and many more. ++
In Côte d'Ivoire, the fabric is affectionately called "pagne Baoulé". The textile clearly finds its name and roots from the Baoulé, Akan people of Côte d’Ivoire, but is more so originating from the 16th century Ashanti Kingdom, which empire stretched from present-day countries of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. For centuries, the fabric has mostly been adorned during community gatherings, special events, traditional proceedings and festivities. For many local communities, the fabric is the main source of revenue. And the techniques are transmitted from generations to the next. In the small town of Sakiaré, it's reported that 95% of the villagers are weavers. Come travel with us, to the small town of Tuenzigbo to discover the fabric, its importance, techniques, and art making. ++
Imagine a place, lost in the tropical wilderness along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, that's been home to fishermen and farmers who have built generations of customs and traditions on the shores of two waters: lagoon and sea. This all sounds like an enchanted and secret land, something you’d see in the “The Beach” film, starring Leonardo Dicaprio; yet, this very land is true. ++