Africa The painted houses of Burkina Faso

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The painted houses of Burkina Faso play

The painted houses of Burkina Faso

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Down in Tiebele, southern Burkina Faso, lies an extraordinary painted village home to the Kassena people.

About Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country located in West Africa.  It became a French Protectorate in 1896 and today most natives speak French as a second language.  Per capita income is less than $700 a year with most Burkinabé involved in agriculture.

play History and legends of the Kassena people are shared through the paintings (Flickr)

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Tiebele and mud canvasses

Called the Cour Royale de Tiébélé, these houses lie within circular, walled confines measuring roughly 1.2 hectares (2.9 acres). The complex serves as the official residence of the pè, or community chief.

play The complex serves as the official residence of the pè, or community chief (Amusing Planet)

Designs in black and white embellish the earthen architecture of Tiébélé and reflect the building traditions of the Kassena people who first settled in Burkina Faso in the fifteenth century.

play Despite the absence of a new leader following the death of the last pè in 2006, the site has been regularly maintained by the community (WMF.org)

 

Despite the absence of a new leader following the death of the last pè in 2006, the site has been regularly maintained by the community. History and legends of the Kassena people are shared through the paintings. Figures of animals are shown on the walls, including the sacred crocodile in ancient times who helped villagers cross a mighty river.

How the paintings are done

The women (and only women perform this role) are responsible for painting the walls once a year or every other year.

play Women use a paint composed of dirt, chalk and clay, followed by polishing, and then a lacquer made from a local plant (Global Gaz)

 

The women use a paint composed of dirt, chalk and clay, followed by polishing, and then a lacquer made from a local plant. Houses are built with clay with a tiny entrance used to deter attackers and keep out the broiling sun.

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