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THE BARKCLOTH–OLUBUGO

THE BARKCLOTH–OLUBUGO

The relevance of barkcloth manufacture in 21st century Bugandan cultural identity was recognized in 2005. UNESCO designated Ugandan barkcloth as a Masterpiece of Humanity’s Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Making barkcloth is a traditional Baganda skill. For many years, the Ngonge clan’s hereditary artisans, led by a Kaboggoza, have been producing bark fabric for the Baganda royal family and the rest of the community. Its preparation includes an ancient procedure that predates the development of weaving and is one of humanity’s earliest savoir-faire.

During the rainy season, the inner bark of the Mutuba tree (Ficus natalensis) is collected. It is battered with several sorts of hardwood mallets in a long and laborious procedure. This results in a soft fine texture and a consistent terracotta color.

It’s the ideal spokesperson for sustainability. Its harvesting has no negative impact on the tree. The same tree can be harvested over several years. To keep the bark from drying out too soon, craftsmen work in an open shed.

The Buganda region benefited immensely from the large planting of mutuba trees, which resulted in economic success.

 

Article of commerce

Barkcloth became a commodity traded between neighboring Kingdoms. It was traded for salt, cattle, and hoes. To this day, both sexes wear a toga of it up. A sash is worn around the waist by women.

The fabric is most commonly seen at coronation and healing rites, as well as funerals and cultural events. It is also used to make curtains, mosquito screens, and bedding.

The hue was originally terracotta. The backcloth of kings and chiefs is white or black in color. It was worn in a variety of styles to emphasize its significance.

Cotton textiles were imported by Arab caravan traders in the nineteenth century. Production was hindered as a result. The barkcloth was only used for cultural and spiritual purposes. The barkcloth is still acknowledged as a symbol of distinct social and cultural customs within the Baganda population.