Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Some comments on the diisa

Happy to get some interesting comments on yesterday’s post on the diisa, a long fringed indigo men’s shawl, through my Facebook and Instagram pages.

Malian artist and master dyer Aboubakar Fofana commented:

“these two photos are amazing. The dissa shawl was such an important piece for a man from this region. It was given to a young man by his mother when he got married. She would have saved for this shawl since her son was very young- they were a lot of work and were worth the same as 10 head of cattle. They were indigo dyed, and when the man died, this shawl would be his shroud. The celestial blue of indigo would help him pass from this world to heaven. I'm very proud to be making a modern interpretation of the dissa, with its long fringes, and I hope I am carrying on the tradition of something important in my culture.”

And Belgian art historian Patricia Gerimont, who is working on a book on indigo dyeing in Mali, supplied this information on indigo in Burkina Faso (my translation.)

“the indigo shawls and wrappers in Burkina are dyed by a specific group called the Yarsé, and also by other groups of Marka dyers. The Yarsé speak Mossi but are of Marka origin, you also find them in Dogon country under the name Yélin.”

And here is another photo of Samory Touré wearing his diisa.


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Diisa, an indigo scarf of the Sahel.


The photo, by photographer Edmond Fortier, shows the Dioula warlord Samory Touré wearing on his head a plain fringed indigo headscarf called a diisa. In a brief discussion of these distinctive cloths in his book Textiles du Mali (Bamako 2003) Bernhard Gardi suggests these cloths were usually a mark of rank. Similar cloths, worn around the hips by young Dogon men, are seen in the photo below, also by Fortier.


And by a Wolof trader below:


Looking at the group of long fringed cloths from Burkina Faso that I posted on my site last week, one of which is shown below, and the remainder here, it seems likely that the tie-dye patterned examples form a previously unnoticed regional variation on this wider tradition of men’s prestige cloths.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Dogon uldebe cloths


Dogon elders wearing indigo and white cotton uldebe cloths. These cloths are still important among the Dogon as a mark of high status and will play an important role in funeral rites. Photo by Boukary Konate on Facebook.