Friday, 16 October 2009
Couverture Personnages - strip woven wedding hangings from Mali
In the 1950s large brightly coloured blankets called tapis with solid blocks of colour began to be a fashionable gift at weddings, beginning to displace older traditions of indigo blue and white cotton and brown wool blankets. They were used to adorn the walls of the house during weddings and as covers for the newly imported iron beds. At some point in the 1960s one master weaver called Abdurrahman Bura Bocoum reconfigured this new style of coloured blankets so that the weft blocks depicted large figures of humans and animals. Soldiers became the predominant theme of these cloths following the military coup in Mali in 1968. It is not known when he died, but Bocoum was succeeded by at least three other weavers. One of this second generation, also now dead, was Mama Diarra Kiba, who wove the yellow ground cloth shown above, which is now on our website here.
This piece with thinner, arguably cruder, figures is by Jaara Ila Jigannde.
The best known of this second generation of weavers is Oumar Bocoum, shown here. Now an elderly man who no longer weaves, his work featured in the African Textile exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, and at the Kennedy Center in 1995. The remaining cloths shown here are a selection of typical Oumar Bocoum pieces. They would have been commissioned from the weaver as prestige hangings for display during a wedding, then later sold. We also have a Bocoum blanket at our gallery - more details here. For more information see Bernhard Gardi ed. "Woven Beauty: The Art of West African Textiles" (Basel, 2009).