African quotes: Malinke quotes

•April 19, 2009 • 5 Comments

Today I am going to provide you the English translation from Malinke quote. These translations are made from Malinke quotes that have been translated into French. So I will give you the French source and then the English translation. This post aims at showing you the Malinke culture through some of their famous quotes:

  • On peut connaître une chose et en ignorer plusieurs autres

English translation: “You can know one thing and don’t know other things. ” It means that nobody is universal.

  • La femme est un serpent, dès qu’elle sort la tête, fais-la lui rentrer

English translation: “A woman is like a snake, as soon as she gets her head out, make it go inside again”. It means that it is wrong to give too much freedom to women.

  • La belle femme est celle qui a un enfant au dos

English translation: ” A beautiful woman is the one with a child in her back”. This is related to the value of motherhood.

  • Lorsqu’un chef te tend une natte, assieds-toi seulement sur un petit bout

English translation: ” When a chief gives you a mat, sit down only on one small corner.” It means that you need to be careful when a boss asks you something.

  • Manger avec les deux mains rassasie vite, mais la faim revient bientôt

English translation: ” Eating with the two hands will fill you up quickly, however the hunger is coming back faster. It means that if you get rich too fast, you also get poor very fast.

  • C’est celui qui nous connaît qui nous ménage le moins

English translation: “It is the one that know us that is less gentle with us. ” It means that this person can harm us easily because this person knows our secrets, our weaknesses.

Remember that you can purchase African art and craft by visiting the following link:

Bete mask

•April 13, 2009 • 1 Comment


This is a mask coming from the Bete group. This type of mask is used during funerals or during ceremonies organized between villages  to detect sorcerers that can bring harm to the community . In the past, it used to be a war mask and was used to prepare men for the fights.

Typical of these masks are the protruding forehead, large mouth, narrow eyes and hornlike protuberances to protect the face.

The Bete tribe lives in the southwestern part of Côte d’Ivoire, between the Sassandra and Badama Rivers, close to the Guro and Akan tribes.

The Bete tribe are known to maintain a harmonious relationship between nature and the ancestors.They believe in the spirit world to guide and protect them through daily life. These spirits they believe are found in nature, namely rivers, rocks, forests etc.

They number about 600,000 and are an agricultural group. Patrilinear, the Bete live – under the ancestors’ authority – in small “headless” villages. Historically they were hunters, but nowadays they also farm. They grow what is needed for a subsistence economy. They also have linked to the market economy and much of their effort is devoted to the cultivation of cacao and coffee.

Bete carvers are renowned for one particular type of face mask, the gre or nyabwa , which has exaggerated, grimacing distorted features –



You can purchase this mask and other type of masks by visiting the following link:

Kple Kple mask

•April 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment


We already talked about the Kple Kple mask in another note:

I wanted to add more information about this mask. This mask is generally reffered to the Baule group. However it is also associated with the Goli group. The Goli are known to be a sub-group of the Baoule.Their name is a variation of the word ” Kloli” .

You can purchase a Kple Kple mask by visiting the following link:


African famous quotes (part 2)

•November 29, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Today I made some further researches in relation to African quotes and here are some new African quotes from West Africa.
Don’t insult the crocodile until you cross the water.

It means be careful when you critize others

Only a knife knows what the inside of a coco-yam looks like.

It means that the person who investigate and research something understand the subject.

A big blanket encourages sleeping in the morning.

It means that luxury encourages idleness. If you have worked hard and made wise choices, you will
find contentment.
A bird that is eating guinea-corn keeps quiet.

It means that you should dedicate yourself to a task.

Rats don’t dance in the cat’s doorway.

It means that you should not look for trouble.
A hippopotamus can be made invisible in dark water.

It means that it is important to be informed and alert. Ignorance can lead to danger.

If your house is burning, there is not time to go hunting.

It means that it is important to make priorities.

African art: Zaouly ( Zaouli) mask

•November 23, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Zaouly mask is a symbol of the Gouro community in Ivory Coast.



It is said that Djela Lou Zaouly was a goddess for the Gouro people. The Gouro word “ Djela Lou Zaouly” means “ The lion’s daughter”.Zaouly is a goddess for beauty.



Zaouly masks have always bright colours . They can be used for ceremonies and also in funerals. They are always associated with a special stylish dance . You can see the dance if you visit the following links:





African mask_ Kple Kple mask

•November 18, 2008 • 2 Comments

Let’s look at one type of mask that we never referred to before: Kple Kple mask

The Kple Kple mask is from the Baoule community in Ivory Coast.


Kple Kple mask (Ivory Coast)

Kple Kple mask (Ivory Coast)




 The face refers to the sun, and the sunbeams are represented by polychromed triangles.This type of mask is usually used in commemorative, agricultural and burial ceremonies. The mask would generally be worn with a raffia (grass) costume attached to the lower section of the mask reaching to below the waist with a grass skirt and other grasses covering the body and legs.

Below you will see an image of a ceremony when the Kple Kple mask was used.




Baule masked dancers of the Goli society, Kondeyaokro village, Côte d’Ivoire. Photograph by Eliot Elisofon, 1972




African art and MyAfrikart mission

•October 25, 2008 • Leave a Comment

After few months of silence,Myafrik’art is back on ebay and also we are back on the blog to write more about African art. This break allowed us to make intensive research in relation to African art. So stay tune!

First of all, I would like to introduce you to our new mission:

– Promotion of handmade African art and craft (all the items are directly bought by us in West Africa and we have a trustful relationship with our suppliers).

-Promotion of local African artists. We both love Africa and its culture. One of us grew in Africa while the other one spent a long time in Africa

-Mix between traditional African art and current African art. We are against the looting of African art in Africa.

Therefore all our items are made in a traditional way but we also know that nobody had to be chased away from his/her village because of our pieces. Too many people that think are interested in African art want the special piece that was part of a ceremony as they think that it is the only real African art . It happened many times to my friend before. Some people will criticize his items telling him that they are fake just because they wanted this special piece. However all these “not so smart”people tend to forget that because of poverty, sometimes some young boy or girl in a village will steal the sacred mask that they want so much and then the boy or girl will get chase away from his/ her village because of this act. We are definitely against this and therefore if you are this type of person, don t even bother contacting us. It is also important to note that in African tradition, sometimes a mask is created for a special ceremony and after the ceremony it is left alone and even given to the children to play with as the mask fulfilled its goal and it is now useless for the village. Therefore it might happen that we have such type of masks or items in our inventory.

African art ( part 2): African art and craft seen with new eyes

•July 27, 2008 • 1 Comment

More and more people such as art galleries, collectors and even tourists visiting Africa tend to sell African art. However all these people tend to only look at African art with an aesthetic judgement and they forgot that the objects were not created for this purpose. Their creators wanted to create sacred objects useful for their communities. So the question is how can you sell and inform about African art and craft without omitting the main goal of the African artists?

It is important to know that African art went through different status over the last centuries. Of course, all the different status were always set by the Westerner people:

                                -XVth-XVIIIth century:  African art = curiosity

While the Portuguese are the first to arrive in Black Africa , they try to impose the christianity to African people and they burn any wood art created by the inhabitants for their rituals. However Portuguese have a growing interest for ivory and gold. So to sum up during this period, all the ritual and sacred objects are encountering a negative judgment from the Portuguese and the other objects ( objects made of ivory for instance) are judged using Westerner criteria and they are brought back to Europe to be shown in what is called “ curiosity” chambers. These special chambers were successful until the XVIIIth century. The main goals of these chambers are to entertain, fascinate and teach.

                                -XIXth century: From curiosity to scientific objects

At the end of the XIXth century, the westerner expeditions changed and scientists are now part of them. Slowly the “curiosity chambers” became museums. The objects placed in museums are now used for ethnographic specimen and they are the witnesses of civilization progress. During this period, the objects are only studies by ethnologists and never by art historians. In the last 25 years of the XIXth century, colonialism is fully part of the Westerner strategies and universal exhibitions show African objects and also humans. African people are brought back to Europe to be put in museums so that westerner people can see how it is to live in Africa.

                                -XXth century : From scientific objects to primitive arts

Primitive arts appeared since the middle of the XIXth century but at this period, the expression “ primitive arts” means that it was created by people in the first period of evolution. A lot of Westerner artists had an interest for African objects but they only look at them from an aesthetic point of view.

                                -Today : An art fully recognized but still not fully understood by a lot of persons

Since 1960, primitive art has a growing public. For instance the Branly museum opened in 2005.

The Baoulé ( Baoule) tribe

•July 10, 2008 • Leave a Comment

As mentioned previously, the Baoulé tribe is part of the bigger ethnic group called the Akan. The Baoulé live mainly in the middle of Cote d’Ivoire. The Baoulé population is estimated to be around 3 millions.

The Baoulé originally come from Ghana and they were lead to Cote d’Ivoire by Queen Abla Pokou. I wrote an earlier note in relation to Queen Abla Pokou. Their name come from the legend in relation to the Queen Abla Pokou and “baouli” means “ the child is dead”.

One of the former president of Cote d’Ivoire named Houphouët-Boigny was part of the Baoulé tribe.

The Baoulé as a lot of ethnic tribes in Ivory Coast have their own dance:

-Goly dance

– Adjemele dance

-Adjos dance

– Kotou dance

The Baoulé are famous sculptors, weaver and goldsmith.

The Baoulé believe in a creator God. Their God controls men and animals. Spirits have supernatural powers. The real world is the opposite of the spiritual world where souls  come from at birth and go back at death. Their belief is founded around the death and the immortality of the soul. The Baoule do ancestors workship but ancestors are not represented.

In the Baoule culture, sculptures and masks allows them to be in contact with the spiritual world. Baoule traditional masks are always wore by the men. Traditional masks corresponds to 3 types of dances/events


       Gba gba: originally from the Guro tribe, this mask is used for women funerals during the harvest seasons. It celebrates beauty.

       Bonu amuen: it protects the village from outside threats. It appears during the death of notable people.

       Goli: this mask has a rounded form and two horns. It celebrates peace and happiness.

In contrary to other ethnic groups, the sculptors skills are not passed over from father to son. It results from a personal choice.

You will see below some examples of Baoule masks:


Photobucket     Photobucket      Photobucket

Senufo group and the secret society: Poro

•June 29, 2008 • 1 Comment

The Senufo live in Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. “Senufo” means “ the ones who speak Sene” . Senufo people were in the past farmers cultivating rice, corn,yams,etc.Their population is estimated to be around 600 000.

The Senoufo have a very interesting political system. It is a matrilineage society. They are four societies which educate and governs the Senufo: Poro, Sandogo, Wambele and Tyepka.We will mainly speak about the Poro society today.

The Poro society is reserved for men ( but it is good to know that apparently young girls and postmenopausal women are permitted to join) and it is a secret society. The main purpose of the Poro society is to guarantee a good relationship between the living world and the ancestors. They are responsible for the religious traditions, ceremonies and also for maintaining the order between the people.

When men are part of the Poro society, they have to go through 3 different phases of 7 years each. It generally starts when the boy are 7 years old and end when they are 28 years old. During the induction, the young men converse with each other using a secret language known only to other Poro members .

It is important to know that in the Senufo culture, when a man is born, it is only an animal and the Poro will help them to change their status.

The different phases can be broken down to:

          The “Kouord”: children are given special tasks and also learn special symbolic words.

          The “dain”: it teaches teenagers how to live in community .During this period, the teenagers are asked to make personal sacrifices. They are taught how to participate in rituals, how to prepare the ritual clothes,etc.

          The “Tcholo”: it helps in understanding the meaning of life. The elders will reveal some secrets that young men were not able to understand until this period. Young men will be taught about philosophy, social behaviours and a professional skill.

          The “Kaffono”: this gives the supreme knowledge and the final sacrament.

Once initiate, the men need to give an annual contribution. In exchange, they will receive support from the elders, they are also protected by the masters and after their death, their funerals are organized by the Poro members.

 All the initiatory ceremonies are happening in a sacred wood outside of the villages. This place is considered as the propriety of Katyéléo ( The Senufo goddess).

.The Senufo produce a rich variety of sculptures, mainly associated with the poro society. The sculptors
and metalsmiths, endogamous groups responsible for making the cult objects live on their own in a
separate part of the village.