While at the California Git Show a couple weeks ago, our location in the global gifts section meant I got to peruse/drool over beautiful items from around the world. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful vintage textiles from Mali: indigo-died cotton, in a rich cobalt blue and white. These rare and beautiful antique pieces are what remain from a once-thriving natural indigo dyeing industry. Since scouting the web for more current information about the cloth, I have come across the incredible work of Aboubakar Fofana. The Malian-born, French-educated artist returned to his natal land in order to study under the finest Malian textile masters to hone his skills. Drawing on the traditional techniques, and his background as a painter and calligrapher, he has created beautiful works of textile art. His process is all executed by hand, a fact which is made obvious by the telltale blue permanently inked on his fingers. The indigenous cotton is homegrown, the cloth is handwoven, and the indigo is dug up from the ground before being fermented in vats fed with honey, grain and mashed banana. The results, which can range from a rich midnight blue, to a soft sky hue, offer a much more complex and beautiful palette than that achieved by synthetic dyes. Apart from being beautiful, Fofana’s textiles function to preserve the local culture and land, which has suffered a great deal from the use of chemical dyes. Check out his website and enjoy some images of his work!