Nature, Spirits and Arts in Burkina Faso

by Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Kassena peoples, village of Tiebele, Burkina Faso, 1984. Photo by Christopher D. Roy.

A Kassena woman from the village of Tiebele, on the border between Burkina Faso and Ghana has painted the façade of her home with geometric patterns drawn from the common Voltaic graphic vocabulary. Although she would give each pattern a different meaning than would the members of the Konate family, the patterns continue to represent ideas about the ethical and moral conduct of life communicated by the religious specialist. The building is made of adobe, built up in courses or layers around the circumference of the building, a new layer added when the earlier layer has dried. The walls are then smoothed over with a plaster of clay, and painted by the women of the family. Each woman has her own home, in which she cares for her children and cooks for her husband.