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The Painted Buildings of Tiébélé

Tiébélé, which is roughly 12.4 miles north of Ghana’s border, is known within the small West African country of Burkina Faso for its sukhala, the elaborately painted walls of the houses and outbuildings within the community chief’s complex. The village is home to the Kassena ethnic group, which has lived in this area since the 15th century.

The patterns on the buildings within the Cour Royale de Tiébélé, which are usually painted by women, are an important example of the Kassena cultural legacy. Traditional designs are created by hand in black, white, and red colors, with lacquer prepared from beans. Adorning the walls with these artistic creations is a community activity, with upwards of 15 women working on any given building. It isn’t just houses that receive this special treatment. Mausoleums for the dead are decorated too.

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