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Last Updated: Monday, 10 May, 2004, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
In pictures: African tie-dye
Women in Labe, holding up Thioub
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The Fouta Djalon region of northern Guinea is famous across West Africa for its "Thioub" material, tie-dyed with indigo. It comes in a huge variety of patterns.
Laba woman picking indigo leaves
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The village of Laba is known as the source of the best indigo, which grows everywhere.
Women scrunching up indigo leaves
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Fresh leaves give the best colour. They are scrunched up by hand...
Girl pounding indigo leaves into balls of dye
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... and then pounded into balls of dye...
Balls of dye drying in the sun
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... which are laid out in the sun to dry, covered with branches to protect them from animals.
Women in Laba
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All the women in Laba, from the very young to the very old, make the indigo dye but they say they only earn 200 Guinean Francs (10 US cents) for a pile of 30 balls, so they just do it to earn pocket money.
Man tying cloth
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Another group of people in the nearby town of Labe does the tie-dying. This man is tying cloth into intricate patterns, which will be reproduced in the cloth.
Women dying cloth
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The women do the dyeing...
Women dying cloth
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... It's hard work and their hands are permanently stained indigo blue
Children beating cloth
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The whole family is involved - these children are beating the cloth to straighten it out after it had been tied up so tightly.
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Tailors then turn the "Thioub" into clothes. Two or three pieces are tied together so a whole suit or dress has the same pattern. When the clothes are new, the dye also stains your skin blue.
Fatoumata Ba, from Laba, models her favourite Thioub dress.
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Thioub can be made it into anything you want - shirts, African gowns or this dress, as modelled by Fatoumata Ba in Laba village.

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