Fakaha, Ivory Coast West Africa Senufo people
Senufo painting Masked figures Stylized animals Falma dye
Fakaha is a small
village in the country of Ivory Coast, West
. The Senufo are a tribe of people
who live in Fakaha. Senufo paintings are stylized drawings of
masked figures and animals done by the men who live in Fakaha. The paintings are
drawn and painted on pieces of white, loosely woven, cotton fabric. First, the
Senufo draw the figures freehand with a yellowish-green dye made from the leaves
of the falma bush. Then a second coat of
black paint is drawn on top of the falma dye. This paint is made from a sludgy
mud dug from the roots of trees in swampy areas.
Traditional Senufo paintings were made into dance or hunting clothes. The
Senufo believe the drawings have special mystical powers that protect and bring
the hunter good luck. Today this cloth is seldom made into hunting clothes.
Instead, the paintings are sold to tourists and specialty shops. Many have
become ornamental fabrics for wall hangings, pillows, table cloths, or other
Both animal and masked
figure drawings are used on Senufo
paintings. The animals include birds, snakes, fish, crocodiles, and turtles. The
masked dancer figures are often shown from the side or front view. Sometimes they are shown with a front-view body and
a side-view head. Geometric designs such as circles, stripes, and zigzags
embellish the drawings.
If you have a budget problem, the paintings can be done
on white drawing paper.
For a more authentic version, substitute burlap for
the coarsely woven Senufo fabrics.
When working with burlap, a considerable
amount of preparation time is needed to cut burlap pieces.
Figure the number
of students participating in the project and decide sizes according to what your
budget can handle.
Try to obtain a real Senufo painting to show students.
Specialty shops or museum stores often sell them. Perhaps you can find a shop
that would be willing to loan one.
Check the library for reference material
on African decorated fabrics.
Develop a Senufo-style painting of your own to share
For animal drawings, use National Geographic or Wildlife magazines that
have quality photographs for reference material.
Instruct the class to read the background
information listed above. They may also visit related websites for more information.
Have students create one or two sketches of square-shaped masked figures
using side, front, or a combination of side and front views. Or have them
develop one or two animal sketches of snakes, crocodiles, birds, or fishes.
Perhaps they could stylize drawings of their favorite animal or pet.
Students decorate the figures Senufo-style with circle, line, or triangle
designs. Include some symbols that might represent good fortune or protection.
Students pick two, three, or four of the best sketches.
Students draw them on a piece of white drawing paper or burlap
fabric.Burlap will fray easily, so plan to set aside a portion of time for
students to trim pieces. Then glue corners to prevent fraying.
Add line, dot, and triangle designs to the drawings.
Finished pieces are ready for display.
Consult the social studies department; a unit on Africa would be enhanced
by the presence of Senufo-style paintings.