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Ugandan barkcloth has been designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Barkcloth making is an ancient craft that has been performed by the Baganda people in southern Uganda for over 600 years.

The inner bark of the Mutuba tree (ficus natalensis) is harvested, then the tree trunk is wrapped in banana leaves for protection while a new bark grows. The stripped off bark is soaked and then beaten with wooden mallets to create the soft, supple texture and to give it an even colour.

The natural colour of the barkcloth is terracotta, but that worn by kings and chiefs may be dyed white or black. The cloth is mainly worn at coronations and at healing ceremonies, and at other forms of cultural gathering. It is also used to make curtains, mosquito screens (they don't like it!) bedding and storage.

For several decades in the twentieth century, some traditional cultural practices were banned in Uganda. They are being revived, but barkcloth makers have declined in number and find it difficult to make a living from their craft. For more information, please visit http://www.unesco.org/culture/intangible-heritage/40afr_uk.htm

Elsa Cappelli bags are ethically sourced and sustainbly made from Uganda barkcloth and have a distinctive appearance and tone. The bags are trimmed with leather and lined with cotton. They have a small, purse/wallet/phone sized pocket inside that is secured with a wooden toggle. They measure 31cm deep by 38cm wide, so comfortable fit an A4 notepad and documents.