The Senufo (the francophone spelling Senoufo is commonly used) are an ethnolinguistic group composed of diverse subgroups of Gur-speaking people living in an area spanning from southern Mali and the extreme western corner of Burkina Faso to Katiola in Côte d'Ivoire. One group, the Nafana, is found in north-western Ghana. The Senufo number somewhere between 1.5 and 2.7 million and speak the various Senufo languages. Korhogo, an ancient town in northern Côte d'Ivoire dating from the 13th century, is the capital of the Senufo people. The Senufo are predominantly an agricultural people cultivating millet, yams, peanut, and rice.
Daily life for the Senufo people revolves around the religious rituals that enable them to placate the deities they respect and fear through means of divination practices and the wearing of specially crafted brass jewelry. The Senufo to employ the Fo bracelet, which contains one of the culture’s most prominent designs, a python, in a variety of purposes to suit the spiritual and aesthetic needs of the society. The Sandogo is an authoritative women’s social order responsible for sustaining positive relationships with the spiritual world through divination and for protecting the purity of each kinship group. The Sandobele are diviners within the Sandogo society who diagnose and resolve issues within the community.
Notes and bibliography
- Garber (1987) estimates the total number of Senufos at some 1.5 million; the Ethnologue (15th edition), based on various population estimates, counts 2.7 million.
- Holas, Bohumil (1957) Les Sénoufo (y compris les Minianka) (preface by Geneviève Calame-Griaule). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
- Spindel, Carol (1989). In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove. Vintage. ISBN 0-679-72214-9. ISBN 978-0-679-72214-4.
- Glaze, Anita J. (1981) Art and Death in a Senufo Village. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
- The Senufo people at Art&Life in Africa.
- 'About the Senoufo People', Masabo Culture Company.
- Senoufo, Supyire of Mali Ethnic People Page at The Joshua Project.
- The Sejen bird figures of the Senufo People, Ivory Coast
- For spirits and kings: African art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman collection, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on the Senufo people
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