Baule Cloth

Baule Cloth, Ivory Coast Ikat textile, Baule people Textile, Baule people

The Baule are a people inhabiting a region in the center of the Ivory Coast. The cloths produced by the Baule people began being produced in pre-colonial times and were not only worn within their community but also traded to outside peoples in exchange for tools and animals. 

The process of making cloth started with women in the community cleaning cotton and spinning it to produce thread. The women also produced vegetable dyes used to color the thread. After this, the men in the community were responsible for weaving the thread into bands and sewing them together to produce cloth. This process was symbolic of the dependency of both sexes in a marriage relationship as well as the benefits of shared labor.

Once European colonization began, the Baule people began using more European factory produced threads in their cloth rather than locally-made thread. This altered the traditional production dynamic between husbands and wives, as the ability to purchase thread removed the need for husbands to obtain the thread from their wives. Additionally, Imported cloth resembling Baule cloth has become much more common in the Ivory Coast, making traditional Baule much more rare and valuable to community members today than in the past.

Includes information from:

Etienne, Mona. "Women and Men, Cloth and Colonization: The Transformation of Production-Distribution Relations among the Baule (Ivory Coast)." Cahiers D'Études Africaines 17, no. 65 (1977): 41-64.