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Video: The women breaking taboos in Mali to become puppet makers

© FRANCE 24 screen grab

Video by Anthony FOUCHARD

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-10-14

Marionette dolls are regarded as mystical and sacred objects across western Africa and are typically seen as taboo, especially for women. But female puppet makers have arrived in Mali to prove that puppet making is not just a male practice.

Women from Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast and Niger have come to Mali to prove their puppet-making ability, a craft normally dominated by men. A training workshop  provided by a local master of puppet making, Yacouba Magassouba, is helping to feminise the art form by helping women learn the techniques needed to create these highly valued objects.

These women are intent on showing this is an art form for all, and that the only limitations are those of the imagination. Not only are the dolls a sight to behold - ranging from the smaller, more delicately detailed hand-held types, to the larger-than-life variants paraded above the head of the maker - but their usage can extend beyond merely the decorative.

Some of these women intend on using these dolls to help with other projects. Camara Khadidiatou is a doll maker from the Ivory Coast, and for the last two years marionettes have played a role in her all-female theater company’s educational productions. The dolls work as aids in connecting with a younger audience, used in performances to more easily explain difficult topics like HIV awareness.


Date created : 2017-10-14

  • MALI

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