Burkina Faso: The Senufo Dozo dry funeral ceremony


Today masks are getting out
They are parading and dancing to accompany a Dozo hunter to his second life
Crops were good, the Senufo spirits will probably give a good reception to the hunter…


The Senufo people:

Senufo people, with its 2.7 million representatives, is one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa.
The Senufo occupy a cross-border territory located in Burkina Faso, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire.
In Bambara, an african language, the word Senufo means “Dialect of the farmers,” and refers to an agricultural and pacifist people. Indeed, the Senufo is deemed to be rude, involved in his work and proud of his profession. The proverb that characterizes the most the Senufo is “I do quarrel with anyone, this is the land that I fight.” The Senufo have migrated to his current territory since one thousand year, because of fleeing persecution made by other ethnic groups, coming from the north of Mali and the east of Burkina Faso. The quality for agricultural purpose of the land has allowed the Senufo to settle there permanently.

In green, the Senufo area


Rice field in the Senufo territory


Senufo village


Dozo hunters:

The all Senufo are not farmers. Some are looking to become a « Dozo ».
Dozo are well knowed hunters of west africa, specially because they are following a strict code based on honor.
To become Dozo, the young apprentice have to get a long learning periode with a Grand Master. Irreproachable moral conduct is required. The code Dozo is based on respect for ancestors, honor and obedience to the master.

Besides learning hunting, the Dozo apprentice is initiated to the religious rituals.
Dozo hunters makes regular offerings to the spirits and fetishes of the bush. They spend considerable time to the preparation of amulets. A hunter Dozo never go hunting without reciting some secret incantations.

A hunter Dozo is distinguished by the shirt and pants he wears. Both are made of cotton and dyed with natural colors like brown.
The Dozo adorns her blouse by various amulets, but also whistles, mirrors, horns of deer and some knives. In addition to its spiritual armor, a hunter Dozo is equiped with a rifle, a small ax, and a slaughtered animal tail transformed into flyswatter.


Dozo with a flyswatter made with an animal tail


Dozo is wearing a tunic covered by amulets


Dozo hunters


The dry funerals celebration:

For Senufo, funeral ceremonies are celebrated by two stages.
Firstly, the “wet funeral” which happen in the days following the death of the deceased and last only one day. Only a small committee to attend this funeral.
One or more years after the burial of the deceased become the “dry funeral”. Called “Yagbaga” in Senufo. These events are always held when the granaries are full of food, after harvest and during the dry season.
Dry funeral have to be a purification and to support of the deceased in the afterlife. These rituals last for several days. During this period, the village of the deceased is in spree, and its activity is punctuated by the funeral dances and festivities.
FFor the occasion, the religious masks getting out. Each mask is made by a delegation from one of the surrounding villages.
Each mask symbolizes a mystical animal. A mask is not only the object that covers the face, it is also the attire and the dance that come with it.
The dances performed by the masks are scary, this is for driving out the evil spirits and to motivate the ancestors spirits to they make good welcome to the deceased. Dozo adhere to this tradition. They come from afar to attend the funeral celebrations of one of their community member.


Masks are walking to the village


Dozo Mask


Masks and musicians draw a round to make a dance floor


Dozo playing Ngoni, also called harp lute


Xylophone Player


Mask dancing to music Senufo


The Mask trance


This mask, already tired, is waiting to dance an other time


And now?
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