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The Painted Mud Houses of Tiébélé, Burkina Faso

The Tiébélé commune is home of the Kassena people, one of the oldest ethnic groups that had settled in the territory of Burkina Faso in the 15th century.

The Painted Mud Houses of Tiébélé, Burkina Faso

In the village of Tiébéle in Burkina Faso, the natives are known for their amazing traditional cob homes which are built by the men and elaborately decorated by the women on the exterior with geometric patterns. The building process is part group art project, part spiritual practice, and part architectural detailing job.

The Painted Mud Houses of Tiébélé, Burkina Faso
The Kassena people build their houses entirely of local materials: earth, wood and straw.

Soil mixed with straw and cow dung is moistened to a state of plasticity, to shape almost vertical surfaces. Today this technique is replaced by the use of mud brick molding walls with foundations resting on large stone.

Tiébélé’s houses are over a foot thick and the homes are designed without windows except for a small opening or two to let just enough light in for the occupants to see.

The Painted Mud Houses of Tiébélé, Burkina Faso

After construction, the woman decorates the exterior of the wall using colored mud and white chalk. The motifs and symbols are either taken from everyday life, or from religion and belief.

The finished wall is then carefully polished with stones, each color polished separately so that the colors don’t blur together. Finally, the entire surface is coated with a clear transparent hard protective coating made by boiling pods of néré, the African locust bean tree.

The decorating is usually done just before the rainy season and protects the outside walls from the rain.

The Painted Mud Houses of Tiébélé, Burkina Faso

The Painted Mud Houses of Tiébélé, Burkina Faso

The Painted Mud Houses of Tiébélé, Burkina Faso

The Painted Mud Houses of Tiébélé, Burkina Faso

Sources: Amusingplanet, Unesco, MessyNessyChic. Photos by Rita Willaer

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Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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