The Mossi are the largest ethnic group in Burkina Faso, numbering some five to six million people. In the centuries preceding colonisation by the French at the end of the C19th the Mossi had used their skill as cavalry to maintain a large and powerful empire. Both weaving and indigo dyeing flourished in the region. Today vintage Mossi indigo cloths, woven from soft handspun cotton and faded through years of heavy use to a variety of subtle shades, are in great demand.
“Weaving is an ancient tradition in the area now inhabited by the Mossi. Several of the original clans include stories of weavers in their myths of origin, and among clans near Guilongou, between Ouagadougou and Kaya, traditions state that the founding ancestor was a weaver who descended to earth on the threads of his warp carrying a wooden mask.
Working exclusively during the dry season, usually in large workshops that are organized and financed by merchants with adequate capital to purchase homespun or factory-spun thread, young men from 10 to 30 years of age produce vast quantities of plain, white cotton bands on horizontal narrow-warp looms.” Source: Dr. Christopher Roy, “The Art of Burkina Faso” Art & Life in Africa, University of Iowa.
Mossi indigo dyers, vintage postcard, circa 1910.
Working with partners in Burkina Faso we collect well used cloths from Mossi villages, then carefully select, sort, and wash them. The colour of these pieces is fast and will not bleed on further washing or handling. We reject inferior recently made pieces or cloths aged artificially as the weave quality and handling are unsatisfactory. Our customers have used our Mossi indigos as shawls,scarves and throws, to tailor jackets and waistcoats, for upholstery, cushions, and a variety of other interiors projects. Wholesale prices are available on request.
At the moment in the shop we have a small group of beautiful hand made cushions backed with vintage indigo dyed French linen.
Cushions made from Mossi indigo cloths (not from us) can be seen in the June 2014 issue of World of Interiors below.
To view some of our current stock, along with other vintage West African indigo textiles on our website click here. Click on the photos to enlarge.