West African Tattoo Designs

TheTattooed Fulani Women

Mali in West Africa is home Co Che Fulani people, whose scrong women are keeping alive Cheir tribe's CaCCoo traditions in a constantly changing region of the world. Travellln* Mick went to Mali to meet and talk with these former nomads about their way of life and their tattoos.

The old city of Djenne - a UNESCO cultural heritage site - forms an impressive backdrop to the weekly market. It looks like a scene from 1001 Nights! At first glance one would never think this was Mali, one of the poorest countries on earth. In front of Djenne's mosque, the largest - and arguably most beautiful - clay structure in the world, colourfully-clad. beautiful, dark-skinned women strut through the congested market area. Wares from all over West Africa arc on offer, a sensory overload of colour* and scents. Statuesque women, dressed in their Sunday best and decorated with plenty of gold, argue noisily about grain prices, happily spread gossip about friend and foe. buy perishables for the coming week, while some breastfeed their offspring in the middle of the busding crowds.


This West African republic, blessed with a stable and responsible government, is roughly five times the size of Britain, but home to only about 12 million people.The country, which Is two thirds desert, is one of the poorest in the world, with less than 20% of its population literate.About 90% are moderate Muslim, with the rest being Christian or AnimistThe official language is French, which is only spoken by 10% of all citizens, who belong to more than 30 different ethnicities.The most important tribes are the Bambara (30%). Songhai. Fulani. Malinke. Bobo. Bozo. Dogon. Dioula and Tuareg.

36 Total Ttttoo Ksgmr*

Dioula Tribe

These are hard working women.The men of the Futani tribe, the main ethnic group in the Sahei region of Mali, don't often bother with the indignity of the daily chores.Traditionally they looked after the sacred catde herds which had to be led to fertile lands hundreds of miles away (in their creation myth, the cow was on earth before humans), but these times arc past for most Fulani now. Drought, local feuds and quarrels about rare grazing lands have forced them to become toroobc. the so-called 'town Fulani".

Since a catastrophic drought in 1973. thousands had to settle in the towns and. since there is nothing much for the men to do now. they do virtually nothing, except spending all day drinking tea. or -increasingly - beer. The struggle for survival for their extended families has been left mainly to the women.They raise the children, find an income, fetch water and firewood, go to the market, cook... Somehow, these strong women manage all of this and look glamorous at the same time!

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