Senofu Spirit Drawings

The Senufo people of West Africa’s Ivory Coast are renowned for their cloth paintings. They believe their artwork has special meaning and helps protect them in their daily lives. Design motifs usually include birds, snakes, fish, frogs, crocodiles, and turtles as seen from above or side, covered with lots of geometric patterns.
1. I had to substitute manila paper for cloth, but someday would like to try this on muslin. I had the students draw a border around their paper the width of a ruler. I drew some very simple animal shapes on the board for them to refer to. They were to pick their favorite and draw it as large as they could in the middle of their paper. When complete, the animals were filled with geometric patterns as well as the border.
2. After the patterns are all drawn, I had the students trace the animal and border with a fat black Sharpie and the inside patterns with a thin one.
3. When coloring with oil pastels, I explained that the Senofu people thought all animals had spirits and often outlined them with a thick band of yellow to represent that kind of energy. Lastly, the background was colored whatever color they wanted. The borders were to remain with patterns only and no extra color.
CA Art Standard: Grade Four
4.4 Identify and describe how various cultures define and value art differently.
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