Alida Vanni

Clay poetry

African women are many working hands: they are the real strength that Africa can count on. And they are the creators of this poetry made of clay.
Women in the village, Burkina Faso | ©Alida Vanni, 2019

Alida Vanni

Clay poetry

This post is also available in: Italiano

I knew I would make this journey. I decided this the moment I accidentally saw images of Tiebelè, a village in the south of Burkina Faso.

Soon I find myself in this fascinating reality. The atmosphere in front of me is engaging, exciting, and seductive. The houses appear almost like gigantic decorated potteries. According to an old tradition dating back to the 16th century, only women are responsible for embellishing their village by decorating the outside of the houses. The walls are then painted red, black and white obtained from natural dyes such as kaolin, charcoal, clay and cow dung. Boiled berries are used to obtain a black dye that will be spread with a feather to make geometric decorations.

These houses are true monuments to creativity.
I notice that a woman remains seated and does not participate in the decoration. They explain to me that menstruating women are considered impure at that time and therefore cannot decorate houses in any way.

What can bloom from cow dung, from berries, from a bird’s feather, from leaves! What can be born from the elements that nature itself offers you? I perceive that everything is thus purely returned to the earth!
African women are many working hands: they are the real strength that the African continent can count on.

Of Africa, and of Burkina Faso, one knows well the despair, and the suffering, one almost never speaks of the serenity, the harmony, the simplicity, the richness of their poverty. But also poetry made of clay.

Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso | ©Alida Vanni, 2019
Text & Photos:  Alida Vanni
Original text in Italian - In-house translation
Burkina Faso
Tiébélé, Burkina Faso
Alida Vanni
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