MSSU African Art Exibit : The MSSU African Art collection features a variety of authentic works of art from various tribes located throughout Central Africa. The objects in the collection range from mundane day to day grooming tools to ritualistic masks and statues.
Fila Mudcloth
Object Name:
Mudcloth, Fila, Cotton
Other Name:
Place of Origin:
Senufo, Ghana, Africa
Aboriginal Indigenous Art.
L = 66—1/2"
W = 41—1/2"

The term fila is literally "dye—painted cloth," a patterned textile associated with madebele and Sando divination. When performing the masquerade, referred to as a "divination cloth masquerade" or "amulet masquerade," a Fila dancer wears the textile sack—style in a manner that recalls kafigeledjo's bodysuit. Underlying this formal affinity, the design and the symbolism of both representations are dictated by local divination systems. Fila masquerades are commissioned as part of a Sando diviner's prescription for a female client, to placate bush spirits she may have offended. She must arrange for someone to perform silently as a Fila dancer at funerals. It is impossible to say whether kafigeledjo figures influenced the costume of Fila dancers or vice versa. Whatever the origin of the imagery, to some extent they may be considered inversions of each other: one represents a wild force that has been subdued and harnessed as a means for unveiling and punishing transgressions, while the other embodies a hopeful appeal directed toward such an entity for social and spiritual harmony to be restored.

Homespun cotton mudcloth (Fila), with mud—based dye. Tan—colored textile, with a variety of rust—colored designs and patterns.
Marianne Keown Collection
Homespun Cotton, Mud—Based Dye
Ritually Used
Art Department, Missouri Southern State University
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