The Art of Burkina Faso

by Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Senufo Related Peoples:

The Tusyâ People:

The Tusyâ are a small group of about 22,000 that lives in the extreme southwestern area of Burkina Faso between Orodara and Banfora. They are surrounded by the Sembla and Bobo who live to the northeast, the Karaboro and Tyefo (Senufo peoples) to the southeast, the Turka and Syemu to the west, and the Senufo to the north. The Syemu are closely related to the Tusyâ, and it is very difficult to distinguish between them.

Their major town is Toussiana on the road from Bobo-Dioulasso to Banfora. Other large villages are Kurignon, Tapoko, and Tagalédougou. About half of the population of the town of Orodara, in Syemu country, is Tusyâ.

Like most of the peoples in Burkina Faso, the Tusyâ are heterogeneous, with numerous variations in cultural characteristics despite their small population. The northern Tusyâ are the oldest inhabitants of the area, and call themselves Tento. The southern Tusyâ, near the large town of Toussiana, call themselves Win. However, the Jula name Tusyâ (people of Toussiana) is used widely. To avoid confusion between Win and Winiama, I will use the more widely-published Tusyâ.

The Tusyâ are closely related to the Senufo, and they speak Winwen, a Voltaic language very similar to their Voltaic neighbors. Their villages, kinship patterns, political systems and religious beliefs are similar to those of the Senufo-related peoples who are their neighbors to the west.

The Tusyâ produce masks and crests or helmets of wood that are well represented in public and private collections. They also cast small brass figures that are very similar to Senufo brasses.