Technique – supports and reserves

The supports on which the reserves are made vary according to the raw material used and its treatment, and according to the structure of the fabric. They reflect availabilities in the natural environment but also aesthetic and cultural choices.

Two large groups of reserve can be seen : reserves that are tied and others that are sewn. They can be made without a mark or, on the contrary, follow a pattern inscribed beforehand in or on the fabric. The link itself is by nature variable : A thread of cotton, a strand of raffia, a strip of plastic or rubber, etc.

  • locally woven cotton

    locally woven cotton

  • industrial cotton

    industrial cotton

  • plaited raffia

    plaited raffia

  • plaited pandanus

    plaited pandanus

  • woven silk

    woven silk

  • woven camel wool

    woven camel wool

  • sheep's wool and sprang

    sheep's wool and sprang

  • double knot

    double knot

  • tying


  • tying pinched fabric

    tying pinched fabric

  • sewing and gathering

    sewing and gathering

  • reserve by sewing and concealment

    reserve by sewing and concealment

  • Embroidery


  • tied stencil

    tied stencil

locally woven cotton

locally woven cotton

Woman’s loincloth Mali, Mopti Region, Dogon, 21st century Cotton, industrial warp yarn, weft yarn hand spun cotton Françoise Cousin Mission 71.2000.8.36

The loincloth is made with nine narrow strips of cloth woven locally. The decorated strips are tightened at regular intervals by tying, then they are all dyed in a vegetable indigo bath. They are then put together by sewing with a red thread. Rhythm is given by alternation of the plain and colour strips, whilst sewing added the additional decorative element. Weaving narrow strips is characterized in West Arica where men carry out the work on double heddle looms linked to pulleys. These are often delicately sculpted. The weaving of the narrow strips takes place in the decorative drafting by playing with the combination of colours. Amongst the Dogons, indigo dyeing is a female activity where the different designs of the loincloth fulfil a social identification function. Hand spun and woven cotton on the double heddle loom gives a grainy texture which is different to that of industrial cotton fabrics.