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Bark Cloth

Handmade bark cloth from Uganda

Bark cloth - one of the first primitive fabrics made in tropical Africa - is still produced by the Baganda people near Lake Victoria. They wear the cloth for funerals and other ritual ceremonies.

Once a year the men harvest the bark of the tropical fig tree. They moisten the bark, then beat it over a log with heavy wooden mallets. The trees survive and re-grow their bark for the next season's harvest.

Every bark cloth is unique, which is part of its unpredictable character. The colour is reddish brown, but will vary from piece to piece. Each piece will show varying signs of distress from the pounding process. These are usually repaired with a bit of hand stitching or patching.

Sizes vary, but are approximately:

  • Large: 75 x 65 cm / 29 x 25 in
  • Small: 40 x 30 cm / 16 x 12 in
Bark cloth bookBark cloth book © Elizabeth Crothers

Bark Cloth
image for Bark Cloth
from £6.50FBK101
 
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