Traditionally, the men weave the fabric on long looms, and they weave cotton fabric strips together into a fabric that’s 1.5 meters long and 1 meter wide. Then, given to the women, and they’re in charge of dying the cloth. From the N’gallama tree known as Anogeissus leiocarpa, its leaves are soaked or mashed and boiled to create a dye bath.
The Bògòlanfini is placed in the dye bath till it turns yellowish, then it’s removed and sun-dried. Simultaneously, women have already collected a special mud from riverbeds and, it’s fermented with plant extracts for at least a year in a clay jar. They use it as special paint to draw beautiful designs on the fabric.
The women can use a metal spatula, a wooden stick or a feather quill to substitute a paintbrush. They use negative space in this artistic process because they focus on painting the background and slowly unleashing the pattern towards the end. This is different from other artists that paint directly on their canvas or fabric.
The chemical reaction between the N’gallama leaves and the special mud means that the cloth retains a brown colour after the mud is washed off the fabric. Finally, soap or bleach is used on the unpainted parts to remove the yellow dye and leave it white. Alternatively, this entire process of fermenting, washing and sun-drying, is repeated several times to intensify the colours. So, over time, this dark brown colour starts taking on different shades of brown, and the white side becomes paler with a light brown-reddish-orange colour.