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31 May 2019 / leggypeggy

Korhogo cloth keeps Ivory Coast tradition alive

Weaving Korhogo cloth

Looms are hand and foot operated

Decorating Korhogo cloth

Women decorating Korhogo cloth

Back in early March, we were in Korhogo in the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) in West Africa.

We figure there’s no sense going to these far flung places if we don’t have a good look around, so we took advantage of a full day of guided visits to several touristic destinations. I’ve already written about the bead-making and granite chipping sites, but today I wanted to tell you about two fabric sites.

Frankly, I have a weakness for cloth and textiles in general. It is the souvenir I am most likely to bring home with me—that or some cooking gadget—and these two sites were especially appealing.

Weaving Korhogo clothWeaving Korhogo cloth

I hadn’t realised that Korhogo cloth is world famous. It’s up there with bogolafini (mud cloth) from Mali and Kente cloth from Ghana. I own some of both from previous travels in West Africa.

Korhogo cloth got going in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Back then, American Peace Corps volunteers encouraged the Senufo people to explore new styles of clothing production. They already made fila cloth and that provided inspiration for Korhogo cloth.

The cloth is made of hand woven and hand spun cotton. Men and women cultivate the cotton (we saw huge piles of cotton as we travelled through the country). Women spin it into yarn and prepare the dyes, while men weave and decorate the fabric. The looms are foot operated. We also saw women embroidering pieces of clothing.

Korhogo clothKorhogo cloth

Some finished cloth is made into garments and household accessories, such as bedspreads and tablecloths. Other pieces are turned into artworks. The paintings are done using specially fermented mud and plant-based pigments that darkens over time.

Our first stop was at a place that abounded with cotton, looms and men weaving fabric. Around the perimeter there were women adding embroidery to works already completed. Lots and lots of clothing or household items were on display. In fact, even the trees were festooned with fabric. Of course I bought something…er, somethings.

Later in the day, we visited another site where people were painting or embellishing cloth. For example, one fellow was splattering paint (or mud) on pants. Two fellows were adding designs to rectangles of fabric.

Designs usually depict human forms or animals that are important in Senufo culture and mythology. I resisted buying anything at this stop. Although looking at the pics , I am now suffering from regret.

I couldn’t resist sharing a lot of pics (not all have captions). Too much gorgeousness to look at.

Splattering paint or mud on Korhogo cloth

Splattering paint or mud on Korhogo pants

Korhogo cloth in the mud cloth style

Korhogo cloth in the mud cloth style

Have a look
It hasn’t been easy to follow and comment on other blogs while we’ve been travelling, but every now and then I have a decent internet connection, and I check out as much as I can. I laughed myself silly when I read Ortensia’s post about taking her dog to the vet. As one of the commenters said it ‘was like a scene from a comedy film’. Check it out if you need a good laugh.

Painting Korhogo cloth

I got the impression that the young fellow on the left was an apprentice

Painting Korhogo cloth

He gets a turn to paint

58 Comments

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  1. Brenda / May 31 2019 8:58 pm

    As a spinner and weaver, this post really caught my eye. I’m so glad you posted it! Loved seeing the looms, and was interested to see that only men were doing the weaving. Also, I know you don’t really have the time to respond to comments, but–if you get to it–I’d love to know what kind of wheels (or spindles) the women were using to spin the cotton.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 31 2019 9:10 pm

      Oh wow, Brenda, I’m still here. I never saw the cotton being spun. Darn it. Wish I could say.

      Like

  2. beetleypete / May 31 2019 9:20 pm

    Great to see those old traditions surviving unchanged, Peggy. And I would definitely have bought one of those striking designs. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 31 2019 9:49 pm

      So far I have bought six pieces of fabric from three countries. I confess—I’m weak.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. derrickjknight / May 31 2019 9:24 pm

    I really like these shots of work in progress

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Eliza Ayres / May 31 2019 9:25 pm

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 31 2019 9:50 pm

      Thanks so much. Always appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eliza Ayres / May 31 2019 9:55 pm

        I love textiles, too. The African ones are especially interesting. I enjoyed seeing the community efforts in putting these pieces together. Thank you for sharing your memories!

        Like

      • leggypeggy / May 31 2019 10:29 pm

        You are most welcome. I so love the African fabrics. I buy them at every opportunity, and now have way too many.

        Like

  5. Shiva Malekopmath / May 31 2019 9:49 pm

    You are so lucky and blessed to go around the World.
    Thanks for the share.
    Shiva
    🌷

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 31 2019 9:50 pm

      Thanks so much. Always appreciate your visits and comments.

      Like

      • Shiva Malekopmath / May 31 2019 9:54 pm

        So much here.
        Now you can have a stroll at my end as to know “Where is the Present”
        Regards
        Shiva
        🎶

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 31 2019 9:59 pm

        I’ve already seen your post about ‘Where is the present’. Great stuff.

        Like

  6. Miriam / May 31 2019 10:41 pm

    What a gorgeous post. Love those traditions and all the wonderful colours. Enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2019 8:09 am

      Thanks Miriam. I never tire of seeing the handicrafts in progress in Africa.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. MichaelStephenWills / May 31 2019 11:51 pm

    Thanks, Peggy, for these uplifting words and photography of people doing what they love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2019 8:10 am

      You are most welcome. We saw looms in many parts of the country, but Korhogo was clearly the centre of the action.

      Like

  8. susan@onesmallwalk / Jun 1 2019 12:34 am

    LeggyPeggy – I am so impressed with the foot work. And, of course the results are unique and gorgeous. Hurrah for the weavers and thanks for mentioning the Peace Corps Volunteers who had a hand in this. Cheers – Susan

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2019 8:14 am

      We’ve met Peace Corps workers in many parts of the world. I’ve been so impressed by their innovative approaches to development.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. dreamweaver333 / Jun 1 2019 2:59 am

    Reblogged this on dreamweaver333.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Jun 1 2019 3:15 am

    Here is where I take out my wallet and spend everything in it. So much gorgeous, creative cloth. I love ethnic art of all cultures. It was a major part of the art curriculum I taught to kids. This post really caught my attention. The amount of work that goes into making something that appears simple (I mean, a piece of cloth, right?) but is complex in imagery, history, and production boggles my mind. This is a wonderful post, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2019 9:17 am

      Thanks Sharon. When it comes to textiles, my wallet takes a battering too. So far I’ve bought almost 10 metres of cloth in West Africa.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. ralietravels / Jun 1 2019 6:35 am

    We know so many people who have gone to Africa to see the animals, but no one has seen Africa the way you and John have, even those who worked for the Peace Corps or other aid groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2019 9:19 am

      Overland travel is such a great way to learn more about a country or region. We’ve been lucky enough to see animals too. I feel an animal post coming up! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Gilda Baxter / Jun 1 2019 7:01 am

    Beautiful designs, it is wonderful to see people keeping up with their traditional techniques and making wonderful things 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2019 9:20 am

      It’s wonderful when traditions are retained.

      Like

  13. macalder02 / Jun 1 2019 7:22 am

    First of all I have to praise the photos. They are magnificent and show us the meticulous work to make their tissues. It is not surprising that the fabrics are full of very striking colors. We follow the footprints of his walk and it’s like being by his side in the way he describes it. We continue enjoying your trip step by step.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. paolsoren / Jun 1 2019 10:05 am

    Indigenous handicrafts from all over the world are too important to lose. And yet most of us are wearing clothes made of polyester in all its glory. (And not helping the world all that much either. I love old manually operated looms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2019 2:25 pm

      You’re so right. But I’m pleased to report that almost all of my clothes are made of natural fibres. I could be a walking advertisement for merino wool!

      Like

  15. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / Jun 1 2019 11:35 am

    Beautiful fabrics. I would definitely buy some as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. CarolCooks2 / Jun 1 2019 11:45 am

    I too have a penchant for hand made goods especially fabrics a beuatiful post Peggy which was a joy to read

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2019 2:26 pm

      Thanks so much Carol. I should do posts on fabrics from other far flung places.

      Liked by 1 person

      • CarolCooks2 / Jun 1 2019 5:18 pm

        Yes, you should, Peggy. Here in Northern Thailand many people have looms under their homes I did write a post on it a while ago…One lady made me a lovely shawl which I use at night in the cold(er) season and I have some lovely material given to me by Astons Thai nanny which I will have made into a traditional Thai skirt…It is lovely to see old traditions being taught to the young generations and I do hope that it doesn’t die out…

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2019 5:54 pm

        I don’t know if you saw my post about an embroidered piece of fabric I bought in Bhutan. Here’s a link https://leggypeggy.com/2015/08/29/playing-dress-up-at-a-farmhouse-in-bhutan/

        Like

  17. June Lorraine Roberts / Jun 1 2019 11:52 am

    Beautiful work

    Liked by 1 person

  18. America On Coffee / Jun 1 2019 9:01 pm

    I love their (African’s) non-technological traditions. Nice reflection Peg.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. chattykerry / Jun 2 2019 11:23 am

    The textiles are so vibrant and evocative of Africa. I take great joy in staring at the native African clothes that passengers wear at the airport.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. kkessler833 / Jun 2 2019 11:32 am

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. thewonderer86 / Jun 2 2019 10:18 pm

    I would’ve bought somethings too!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Amanda / Jun 3 2019 8:30 am

    Goodness me, that cloth is so vibrant and alive – just beautiful! And it does make a great souvenir – it folds flat for ease of packing and never goes off. Actually, you remind me that I have some nice silk I bought in Hong Kong about 30 years ago. I wonder where I put that …?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 3 2019 1:44 pm

      Oh dear, now you remind me of all the pieces of cloth I have stashed away. Time for a treasure hunt.

      Like

  23. Dreamtemples / Jun 3 2019 1:38 pm

    The cloth looks wonderful and its really nice that old traditions are kept alive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 3 2019 1:47 pm

      Yes, I’m so glad to see traditions carried on.

      Like

  24. The Year I Touched My Toes / Jun 9 2019 2:09 pm

    Great post. At least if you buy fabric you don’t have to worry about weight. And you are supporting the local community by buying things. Do they splatter mud so that it will absorb the colour from the mud?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 9 2019 4:17 pm

      Fabric isn’t as heavy as brass, but 10 metres does add up. The mud staining seems to stay on the fabric, although I’d set the colour with a vinegar and salt solution. The colour on three pieces of the fabric I bought need to be set that way.

      Like

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