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.
Handwoven Dyed Cotton Cloth
Object Name:
Cloth, Homespun Cotton, Mende
Other Name:
Handwoven Cotton Cloth
Place of Origin:
Mende, Sierra Leone, Africa
Aboriginal Indigenous Art.
L = 35"
W = 22—1/2"

Vivian Olson spent over 35 years as a missionary, in Sierra Leone. A letter that accompanied the seven items that she donated, make some mention of each piece. In her own words:

Woven Cloth: Country cloth was a thriving industry in the 19th century and continues on a much smaller scale. They are made from locally—grown cotton. The women clean, spin and dye the cotton. The men weave the cloth in strips six inches wide on a locally made loom. Some cottongrew wild in the rice fields and was picked when the rice was harvested. In Mende country, the cotton seed was mixed with rice and broadcast by hand on the upland rice fields. The cotton was dyed by local indigo or camwood dyes to give blue, brown or dark red colors.Country cloths have been used for waering apparel, blankets, hammocks and especially in the 19th century as a medium of exchange. Even as late as 1906 native cloths were used to pay fines or debts. In the 20th century imported yarn has sometimes been used in the fabric.
Mende handwoven cotton cloth, dyed using indigio and camwood.
Vivian Olson Collection
Domestic Use
Art Department, Missouri Southern State University
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