The Silence of the Women: Bamana Mud Cloths is a lavishly illustrated, exquisitely detailed, and highly readable analysis of textile patterns from the Beledugu and Fadugu regions in south west Mali in the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. Brett-Smith's research, focusing on the meanings of textiles in relation to gender relations, is a classic study of the visual language of a textiles, status, and identity not only in a traditional, precolonial rural context but in the larger colonial and post-colonial context as well. Above all, Brett-Smith provides a fabulous account of the vital magical functions mud cloth served and the ritual and nonritual contexts in which they were created and used.

Drawing on interviews with the elder artists she interviewed between 1976 and 1998, Brett-Smith lays out...

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