All posts tagged: bazin

on the colors of bazin

Bazin, in all its sartorial glory: billowing swaths of starchy, stiff fabric, to make any regular person seem instantly regal (and, in the hot season, suspiciously insulated). Bazin is an Instant-Royalty sort of trick that nudges the back of your mind with thoughts like “Where’s he going?” “Who could she be?” and “What a handsome couple they make!” I hadn’t been to a bazin atelier previously, though I’d seen the flags of fabric clipped to clotheslines and flapping in the breeze from afar. A friend asked me to take a few family photos at just such a spot; It was a brilliant idea, and played beautifully in photographs. Here are a a few, mostly from the “B-roll.” Bazin is a Malian specialty, and ateliers pop up throughout the city and on its edges, inside markets, in back alleys, and in cramped residential neighborhoods. The women who dye work hard, bent at the waist over buckets of dark liquid, creating something akin to the most impressive tie-dye job you’ve ever seen, yielding a dignified stretch of fabric with haute …

on listening

In some neighborhoods of Bamako, houses and their yards are enclosed by high walls; some are grey cement, some are painted, and others have wild and intrepid foliage spilling over their tops. A single wall separates one house from another, obscuring the view but not much else.  From my kitchen, I can just see over the wall and into the next door courtyard. On the other side lives a large family whose patriarch is very old, very loud, and more or less unhinged. He usually wears purple bazin, he doesn’t see well–perhaps at all–and occasionally he shakes, a shock running through his body from hand to foot, or head to knee. But this isn’t about what’s to see; it’s about what the wall can’t keep out: the sounds this old man makes, to an audience he alone perceives, and extra loudly when the rain comes. Most of what he says is incoherent, but there is one word that pierces the verbal fog with thunderous effect: Allah. It comes down heavy, and urgent: Allah. Sometimes the word punctuates his …