Caravans, Covers and Containers

Cover (arkilla jenngo)
West Mali, Africa, 19th or 20th Century
Wool, cotton, mixed techniques
254 x 110.5 cm (100 x 43 1/2 in.)
Karen A. Bennett Collection

Eleven narrow strips have been sewn together to make this cover. The strips are woven on a loom which has twin heddles operated by pulleys attached to foot pedals, a typical West African technique. This type of weaving, known as an arkilla, is produced in central Mali in the inland delta region of the River Niger.

Each sub-region has its own distinctive style of arkilla; this type, known as arkilla jenngo, and characterized by deep black-blue and white checks, are woven by the Songhay-speaking Peul or Fulani people for sale to the Tuareg nomads. They are for general use in the tent, as covers or dividers, or, depending on the number and size of the strips, as blankets used at weddings.