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Bidjogo Coiled Grass Mats

Dublin Core


Bidjogo Coiled Grass Mats


Bidjogo Culture


7 Mats.

Basketry is a highly regarded art form in Africa, not only for its practical utility but also for its beauty of form and the expression of its geometric patterns. Many different techniques and materials are utilized, but among the most popular are those using raffia palm leaf fibers and the coiling technique, as together these provide optimal strength, durability, and versatility.

The seven woven mats of the Stoneman Collection were made by Bidjogo culture artisans, who live on the Bissagos Islands of Guinea-Bissau. Today round mats of this type are made for use on dining tables as placemats and also as decorative wall hangings.

The vivid colors used on the mats conform strongly to the traditional African color harmony known as the African Triad, which consists of white, yellow (or a light neutral color); red or brown; and indigo blue or black. The colors have specialized meanings within each African culture, but often they are associated with general ideas: The white or yellow are usually associated with purity, spirituality, or the afterlife; the red or brown generally symbolize blood, power, danger, or transformation; and the black or indigo may represent fertile soil, death, transformation, or anti-social behavior. Simple woven geometric designs such as those on the mats are commonly found through northern Africa, in both traditional and Islamic cultures, and it is likely that the cultures of these regions exchanged ideas and shared artistic patterns. These mats use in particular motifs of concentrated circles or a circle with a solid circle in the center, and the zigzags or rows of triangles that are connected at the base. Circular motifs such as these generally are symbolic of the sun. The zigzag or connected-triangle motifs, meanwhile, may have many different symbolic meanings, including fire, snakes, lightening, water, or the mane of an antelope—which is associated with the sun.

Research by Andrea Lisek, 2008, Missouri State University Student. Mentor: Dr. Billie Follensbee



Item Dimensions

c. 35 cm dia.






Warp Weaving


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Stoneman

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