Africa is a continent of 54 diverse countries that share some of the best landscapes natures has ever spawned. From the rich tropical forests of Central Africa, to the sheer magnitude of the Sahara desert, and then to the flourishing savannah of the east, the old continent never ceases to amaze.
It is also the place where humans first came into existence, according to the archeologists. It is no wonder that Africa has sprung many customs, ancient rites, traditions and mysticism.
The same can be told about a small, but fascinating, round village, called Tiebele, in the country of Burkina Faso. Occupying an area of 3 acres, this marvelous settling is known for its traditional Gourounsi architecture and carefully hand decorated houses.
These intricate houses were built by the Kassena people, and are made entirely of local materials: mostly soil, wood and straw. They share a common design that provides both defense and protection from the burning sun. Small openings and doors about two feet tall provide just the needed light.
On a side note, you could compare them to the houses found on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s home planet.
But it’s the decoration of the houses that catches the eye: They all have been hand painted by the locals, with extreme care. Geometrical shapes are covering the walls turning them into splendid frescoes. The process requires many days of work, because of the materials used: mixed dirt, natural chalk and clay followed my meticulous polishing and, finally, sprayed with a natural lacquer, made from the leaves of acacia.
Ancestral symbols and figures of animals are also used to decorate the walls. It feels like every painting holds secrets that are centuries old, turning the whole village into an otherworldly place.
Even more fascinating is that all of the paintings are unique, none of them are repeating. It’s truly a testimonial of the tradition and culture of the African people.
Images courtesy of Rita Willaert.