AbstractThe most interesting problems in fieldwork usually arise when one runs into outright unhelpfulness on the part of informants. When I first arrived in Kolokani, armed with photographs of numerous mud cloths from European museums, I was puzzled by the reaction to one particular image: the Basiae cloth. At the sight of this pattern, my informants burst into embarrassed laughter then became mute. Several months later I observed a N'Gale cloth and was equally confused by Fatmata Traore's reluctance to paint its black and white stripes on the wrapper I offered her. Why should these two cloths, the Basiae and N'Gale, arouse such resistance? No one was reluctant to explain the meanings of other patterns. Do these cloths have a different kind of meaning; if so, what is it?
SubjectsBasiae cloths, N'Gale cloths, Female circumcision--Africa, West
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