Mud houses in Burkina Faso


In the south of Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, near the border with Ghana, lies a small, round village of approximately 1.2 hectares called Thiebele. These are the houses of the Cassin people, one of the oldest ethnic groups who settled in Burkina Faso in the 15th century. Tiebele is known for its amazing traditional Gurunsi architecture and the intricately decorated walls of their houses.

mud houses

Entry related to place: Africa

We have already written about the city of Shibam, Manhattan in the desert, where houses are built in a similar way, now we will supplement this topic with another interesting place. Burkina Faso is a poor country, even by West African standards, and perhaps the poorest in the world. But it is culturally rich and the decoration of the walls of their buildings is an important part of their cultural heritage in this area. Wall decoration is done by women as they gather together, a very ancient practice dating back to the sixteenth century CE. e.

The people of Cassin build their buildings entirely from local materials: earth, wood, and thatch. The soil, mixed with straw and cow dung, is moistened and plasticized to form nearly vertical surfaces. Today, this technique has been replaced by clay bricks. Thiebele’s buildings are also built for defensive purposes, whether it be from the climate or any potential enemies. The one-foot-thick walls are designed without windows, except for a small opening to let in enough sunlight. The entrance doors are approximately two feet high and made especially strong.

After construction, a woman makes frescoes on the walls using mud and white chalk. The motifs and symbols are taken from everyday life, or from religion and faith. The finished wall is carefully polished with stones, each color is polished separately so that the colors do not mix together. Finally, the entire surface is covered with a natural varnish made from beans.

burkina faso houses
The decoration is usually done just before the rainy season and protects the outer walls from the rain. By adding cow dung, compacting layers of dirt, polishing the final layer and varnishing, they make them resistant to wet weather, as well as more durable.