Weaving Korhogo cloth

Looms are hand and foot operated

Decorating Korhogo cloth

Women decorating Korhogo cloth

Back in early March, we were in Korhogo in the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) in West Africa.

We figure there’s no sense going to these far flung places if we don’t have a good look around, so we took advantage of a full day of guided visits to several touristic destinations. I’ve already written about the bead-making and granite chipping sites, but today I wanted to tell you about two fabric sites.

Frankly, I have a weakness for cloth and textiles in general. It is the souvenir I am most likely to bring home with me—that or some cooking gadget—and these two sites were especially appealing.

Weaving Korhogo clothWeaving Korhogo cloth

I hadn’t realised that Korhogo cloth is world famous. It’s up there with bogolafini (mud cloth) from Mali and Kente cloth from Ghana. I own some of both from previous travels in West Africa.

Korhogo cloth got going in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Back then, American Peace Corps volunteers encouraged the Senufo people to explore new styles of clothing production. They already made fila cloth and that provided inspiration for Korhogo cloth.

The cloth is made of hand woven and hand spun cotton. Men and women cultivate the cotton (we saw huge piles of cotton as we travelled through the country). Women spin it into yarn and prepare the dyes, while men weave and decorate the fabric. The looms are foot operated. We also saw women embroidering pieces of clothing.

Korhogo clothKorhogo cloth

Some finished cloth is made into garments and household accessories, such as bedspreads and tablecloths. Other pieces are turned into artworks. The paintings are done using specially fermented mud and plant-based pigments that darkens over time.

Our first stop was at a place that abounded with cotton, looms and men weaving fabric. Around the perimeter there were women adding embroidery to works already completed. Lots and lots of clothing or household items were on display. In fact, even the trees were festooned with fabric. Of course I bought something…er, somethings.

Korhogo cloth in trees
Korhogo cloth in trees
Korhogo cloth in trees

Later in the day, we visited another site where people were painting or embellishing cloth. For example, one fellow was splattering paint (or mud) on pants. Two fellows were adding designs to rectangles of fabric.

Designs usually depict human forms or animals that are important in Senufo culture and mythology. I resisted buying anything at this stop. Although looking at the pics , I am now suffering from regret.

I couldn’t resist sharing a lot of pics (not all have captions). Too much gorgeousness to look at.

Splattering paint or mud on Korhogo cloth

Splattering paint or mud on Korhogo pants

Korhogo cloth in the mud cloth style

Korhogo cloth in the mud cloth style

Have a look
It hasn’t been easy to follow and comment on other blogs while we’ve been travelling, but every now and then I have a decent internet connection, and I check out as much as I can. I laughed myself silly when I read Ortensia’s post about taking her dog to the vet. As one of the commenters said it ‘was like a scene from a comedy film’. Check it out if you need a good laugh.

Painting Korhogo cloth

I got the impression that the young fellow on the left was an apprentice

Painting Korhogo cloth

He gets a turn to paint

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