Mud cloth is a fabric traditionally known as bògòlanfini or bogolan. It is a handmade Malian cotton fabric customarily dyed with fermented mud. It has a distinguished place in Malian society and has become a symbol of Malian cultural identity. In traditional Malian culture, bògòlanfini is worn by hunters as a camouflage. It is also worn as a protective shield against evil forces and as a revered badge of honor and symbol of status.
In certain Malian tribes, women are wrapped in mud cloth after their initiation into adulthood and immediately after childbirth. This is because the cloth is believed to have mystical powers to quench evil forces and unclean spirits sent to devour the newborn baby or soil the destiny of the budding woman.
Mud cloth patterns are rich in heritage, didactic messages and important historical narratives that inspire, teach, instruct and exalt. For example, certain bògòlanfini fabrics recount famous battles between celebrated Malian warriors and the French invaders while others bore motifs of crocodiles and other animals revered in Bambara mythology.