Art and Music


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The art of Burkina Faso 

Many kinds of art and different handcrafts can be found in Burkina Faso, and there is much traditional music and dancing. Handcrafted fabric and art objects are among the few real enterprises in Burkina Faso. Because there are so few avenues for employment and enterprise in such a poor country, those who sell such tourist items can be rather persistent, especially in the large markets and tourist areas of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. But even though salespeople can border on aggressive (especially toward Americans), they are much less so than in many other tourist locations in the developing world. 

The artists themselves represent a range of talents and skills, some of which are passed down from one generation to the next, and others of which are adapted or learned from other families or cultures.


Artists at work...

Click on a thumbnail image to see the larger photo.


Cathy with the artist from Bobo-Dioulasso who made these wind chimes from wood and a calabash--parts he also uses to make a musical instrument called a ballophone. The wind chimes get quite a work-out on the front porch in Ouahigouya as the harmattan winds come and go.

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December 1999


Marla makes friends with a bronze-casting artist in Bobo-Dioulasso. Afterwards, he gave us both "cadeaux"--presents (bronze crescent-shaped charms), even though we didn't buy anything. 

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December 1999

Making ballophones 
and drums>


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A sculptor in Bobo-Dioulasso signing an abstract sculpture of a mother and child that I bought from him. When I showed him his picture on the LCD monitor of my digital camera, he got very excited. 
In French, he said, "I'm inside the box! You've immortalized me!"

December 1999


Cathy's friend Souleymane,
an artist in Ouahigouya
who makes batiks


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An artist paints unique contemporary calabashes at an arts collective (OLARUN) in Ouagadougou.

September 2001



From cotton to thread to cloth to clothes...


Madame Toe, from Bobo-Dioulasso, spins cotton the old-fashioned way, using a stick with a weighted pottery ball at the bottom. We talked for a long time, and she lamented the fact that young people today don't want to learn the old crafts. (See pictures of Madame TOE and her granddaughter Rosa in Bobo.)>



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<Weavers in a women's cooperative in Ouaga turn hand-spun yarn into traditional striped fabric.

Local tailors turn long strips of fabric into traditional shirts and dresses, slightly different for each of the many ethnic groups in Burkina Faso. (Mr. Bady is also incredible at designing and fitting more contemporary clothes.)>

July 2001




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<People wear traditional shirts even today in Burkina Faso. Here, some Peace Corps facilitators wear traditional shirts of their native Dagara group during an ethnic showcase.

July 2001


All photos and essays are copyright Cathy Seeley. All rights reserved. No photo or text may be reproduced without permission except for small group educational purposes (thanks for giving appropriate credit). 
For other uses, please contact Cathy Seeley.

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