I recently ran across these images of these intricately patterned buildings and now I'm just in love with the charming little village of Tiebele. It took me surprisingly long to find any detailed information about this moderately sized village in North West Africa. I'm actually still not sure if Tiebele is in the country of Mali or Burkina Faso, both land locked countries north of Ghana- either way this post is more about the beauty of the village than pin-pointing it's location.
The bold shapes and intricate colors are just so festive, I love that a majority of the buildings in the village are decorated. It amazes me that there is not some rogue painter that went out and found a hot pink paint or decided they wanted a flower motif instead of geometric, I guess that sort of rebellion is more of an American thing?
Not all of the buildings have thach roofs but the ones that do are so cute, they are like little straw hats. Sort of Dr. Suesse, I love it.
Notice the stairways tucked in between closely set buildings. I love how cosy this place feels.
Look at these sweet little doorways, I guess that requires a deep stoop or crawl through.
As cute as they are I think I would opt for one of these swinging doors with a curtain.
Apparently these structures are made from mud bricks with walls several feet thick, creating a dark, cool living space. I found so many pictures of the outside of these buildings but I could only find one of the inside. This is such a beautiful shot by Rita Willaert, unfortunately she speaks some language other than English and I can't read any of her captions. This looks like a sink to me, what do you think?
The amazing this is that people still live here. When I first saw these pictures there were none with people in them and I just assumed this was some preserved, ancient village.
After realizing these are recent works of art I wanted to find out how they were made. I found a great article at handeyemagazine.com describing the process and a few videos. I watched this one all the way through, it's sort of long so if you'd just like to see the process jump to 2:15.
I love to watch people work with their hands when it's clear they have done it million times, there's no hesitation, it's second nature and there is a sort of confidence in each movement. It like watching my grandma cook, there is no looking at a recipe book and she doesn't have to because she has made cornbread dressing (which is TO DIE FOR) hundreds of times. By the way if you watched me make my jewelry it's not quite this way, I have to pause to pull out my hair:).
Anyway, if you didn't feel like watching, the women of the village are the painters, they make a mixture of mud and cow dung that they spread on the wall with their hands (the cow dung is added as binder to strengthen the mud). Then a second layer of red mud is added and expertly smoothed so that the design can be laid out into the mud. Finally black mud and white chalk are used to painstakingly fill in the design. What a time consuming process! The patterns seem sort of random but each of the designs have a meaning to the community, as do the shape and size of each building and the way the stairs and walk ways are laid out.
The village of Tiebele is typically described as poor but who needs and I-pad when you are so culturally rich.