ARTS AND CRAFTS FROM WEST AFRICA, overview

Carving in the SenuFo region

The art of carving is done exclusively by men of certain professional groups. In addition to the actual carvers, there are sometimes also farmers, blacksmiths and Numus, who learn the craft. The traditional carving process is accompanied by cultic practices, beginning with the ritual of slaughtering a chicken before chopping a tree down so that the wood can be used to work with. If the tree is said to be home to a spiritual being, it must be asked by way of offering gifts, to seek a different place of residence. It is essentially forbidden to fell any tree in the holy grove, the home of the Poro. The Kapok tree is seen to be the main type of tree said to house spirits.

 

fabric painting

The Senufo still partly use conventional garments that stand out due to their unique production style. In everyday life, women and girls wear hip scarves, and if they are mothers a second cloth will be used as a baby carrier to tie the child to their back. These hip cloths are made in the same way as the men's shirts or suits, and children’s shirts. They are made of coarse, hand-spun and handwoven cotton fabric, with narrow, ribbon-like, 9–15 cm wide cotton strips sewn together to the required width. Garments for everyday use are natural-white or have woven stripes in natural indigo-blue. 

 

Casting

Around the middle of the 19th century, the Senufo blacksmiths took over the casting craft from the Lokos, who were originally the gunsmiths in this region. Today, the blacksmiths are, in addition to their traditional blacksmith work and occasional woodcarving work, the undisputed casters in the Senufo region.

Techniques
Since time immemorial, lost-wax casting has been known in West Africa, and requires a great deal of experience and craftsmanship.

 

Töpferei

Anders als die Schnitzkunst ist das Töpfern die Arbeit der Frauen, und zwar im Gebiet der Senufo die der Numu- und Loko-Frauen. Nur sie töpfern und versorgen die Senufo, Schmiede und Schnitzer mit Kochtöpfen, Essschüsseln und Vorratsgefäßen. Aufeinandergestellte Tontöpfe stellen einen sicheren Schutz für Textillen und Nahrungsmittel gegen Insektenfraß und Feuchtigkeit dar; andererseits sind zahlreich aufgestapelte Tontöpfe in einem Haushalt ein Zeichen für Reichtum und Prestige der Besitzerin.

Herstellung
Nur an bestimmten Stellen in der Nähe von Wasser findet sich der erforderliche Ton, welcher erst noch mit dem Scherbenmehl alter, zerschlagener Tontöpfe gemagert werden muß. Die Gefäße werden dann aus freier Hand, zum Anfang manchmal über einem alten Tontopf, ohne Hilfe einer Töpferscheibe modelliert, d. h. erst getrieben und dann in der Wulsttechnik aufgebaut.