Bamako Chic: Women Cloth Dyers of Mali

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I recently met an amazingly passionate filmmaker named Maureen Gosling. I was so excited to learn about her current documentary, Bamako Chic. The new film tells the story of women in Mali who create complex dyed textiles as not just a creative outlet, but also to support their families and communities economically. Maureen is having an event tonight at the Hillside Club in Berkeley to help raise funds to finish her film. The evening includes screening of footage from the movie, plus Malian music and food. She writes:

In Mali, as in other West African countries, cloth has served as social-capital, equity, wealth, inheritance and articles of beauty for hundreds of years. In the early 1970s a group of Malian women dyers helped to re-invigorate the hand-dyed cloth industry throughout West Africa by producing a wider palate of vibrant colors and innovative designs, which continue to evolve even today. Their creative use of bright color-fast dyes and intricate patterns have turned hand-dyed bazin (an imported polished cotton) into popular fashion, sought after by rich and poor alike. Now a lucrative industry, hand-dyed cloth provides a sustainable source of asset building for many women. This is occurring in the context of trends towards “Cheap Chic” and disposable clothing, and the out-sourcing of garment industries through globalization that has made Western clothing all the more ubiquitous. By following the daily challenges of several Malian cloth dyers at different levels of economic attainment, we witness the power that women¹s artistry and entrepreneurial skills have to express the universal human need for beauty, identity, and indeed, survival.

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