bogolan birthday

Posted on August 24th, 2009 by mountain girl  |  Comments Off on bogolan birthday


For the second year in a row, I’ve given my friend Crystal a handmade, black-and-white, african-themed birthday gift. I’m not sure why. I certainly didn’t plan it, it just sort of worked out that way. If it happens again next year, then maybe I’ll investigate whether there is some deeply-buried psychological reason for my strange actions.

Last year, the tiny zebra I made for her was a celebration of her then recent trip to Africa, but I’m not sure of my reasoning behind this year’s gift.

Actually, Zia and I just got a book out of the library (as well as 14 other books) called My Baby. It’s a story based on the craft of a real live woman, Nakunte Diarra, who makes bogolan. Bogolan, or bogolanfini, is an art form of Mali, where designs are painted on white cloth using a stick dipped in a black mixture made of mud and leaves. A bogolanfini is usually presented to someone embarking on a major life event: a wedding, birth, or funeral.

I decided, since I was at a loss for any other ideas, to create something bogolan-ish for Crystal. I usually try to use art materials I already have on hand…and I had a simple wooden picture frame. Needless to say, a bogolan frame soon emerged (minus the mud and leaves).


When we arrived at Crystal’s party, she announced her plans to return to Africa…this time for an extended stay.  So I gave her the painted frame, perhaps a significant gift after all. It shows once again her connection to Africa, this time possibly as she embarks on a major life change- a fitting event to celebrate with a bogolan!

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