Lifestyle and business culture: Arts and crafts

Every continent, country, governorate even village has a unique culture and traditions. Here, we will discuss Arts & Crafts in the Ivory Coast and how it expresses and represent culture.

Country Overview:

“Ivory Coast” is a country located in West Africa and officially known as”Côte d’Ivoire”. In the fifteenth century, French and Portuguese merchants in search of ivory named the region the Ivory Coast for its abundance of the natural resource. But the country changed its name to Côte d’Ivoire in 1985; its official name is the République de Côte d’Ivoire —a reflection of French control of the country from 1843 until independence in 1960.

The capital is “Yamoussoukro city “and “Abidjan” is the economic center of the country.

The country is bordered by Ghana in the east, Burkina Faso and Mali in the north, Guinea and Liberia in the west, and the Gulf of Guinea in the south.

The population of this country is around 23.000.000 people and its area is 322,463 sq. km. French language is the state language. Côte d’Ivoire has been a model of economic prosperity and political stability for its neighboring African countries since its independence in 1960. So, they called is “the jewel of West Africa”. Also, they called the country as ‘teeth coast’ refers to the elephants’ ivory trade.1

Economic outlook

Côte d’Ivoire is that the largest economy within the West African Economic and Monetary Union. The national currency is West African CFA franc, XOF. The economy is primary because Agriculture has been the backbone of the economy.

Main traditional export crops are coffee and cocoa. Other crops are palm oil, pineapple, sugar cane, cotton, bananas and tropical fruits, etc. It is considered the world’s largest exporter of cocoa (30% of the world’s production) and one of the largest producers and exporters of coffee and palm oil.

Ivory Coast has become one of all the fastest growing countries in Africa after Nigeria. Before the world’s shock is triggered by the COVID- 19 pandemic, Ivory Coast still had one of the foremost strong growth rates in Africa within the world. The economy had matured at an average annual rate of 8% since 2014 till 2018. Then 7% in 2019 and projected to be 7% growth rate in 2020.2

Overview of the global position of the economy:

In the global ranking all the Francophone countries in West Africa are ranked 139 and the Ivory Coast is ranked 18 out of 48, hence near the top of the list.

Culture and religion:

The country has more than 60 ethnic groups in Ivory Coast ethnic groups. Approximately 25% practices Islam and 12% of the country’s population are Christians. While, 63% adhere to traditional beliefs.3

Ivory Coast has several festivals, events, art, and music. They have many festivals represent their culture like (Fêtes des Masques) is one of the major festivals that is held every December. It’s a Competition between villages are organized so as identify the best dancers, and to pay respect to the forest spirits personified in the masks…

Arts& Crafts:

The domestic arts in Côte d’Ivoire include wood sculpting, weaving, mask making, jewelry creating, carving, sculpting, and painting. And the mask making is a primary art form in the Ivory Coast

All traditional Ivorian arts are made first for a purpose linked to religious, health, or village matters.

Here are examples of Ivorian masks:

Dan mask:

This is an example of sacred masks. They use this mask as a channel to communicate with the spirit world and also to protect this spirit.

People there consider Dan as ‘passport masks’ for personal protection when they are living away from home.

When the dancers wear a Dan masks they turn into the spirit of that masks. A masked dancer will speak in the language of the spirits and his words are interpreted by a wise man.

When they are wearing the mask they believe that their world is split into two sides: the human side which is represented by the village and people, and the spiritual side which is represented by the forest and its spirits.

Moral Masks:

African masks are made for moral lessons. More of societies have no written culture and masked dances teach right from wrong to people.

One of the famous masks for the moral purpose is “The Senefou mask”. People of the Ivory Coast carve masks with eyes half-shut and lines drawn near the mouth to represent serenity. Such masks are used to portray the virtues of self-control and patience.

These masks have compound features of humans and animals. They are created by specialized artists who live apart from the rest of their village.

War masks:

The war masks are common within African tribes. The Grebo tribe of the southwestern corner of that country carves war masks with small, round eyes to represent anger. The sharp straight nose describes an unwillingness to retreat.

Though, African masks are sold in most African (and American) markets, these masks are only replicas of the original masks used in African societies. Most of these masks are passed down from one generation to the next, and masks that have truly been used in ceremonies are almost never found on the open market. 4

Women and crafts:

Women here frequently wear varieties of jewelry like bracelets, rings, hair ornaments and pendants. As though, crafts and techniques are at the heart of this culture. The common metal in the Ivory Coast is Gold, particularly worn by the royalty of West Africa. Gold accessories were a symbol of power and prestige back then.

We noticed that there are most small and micro enterprises are operated in craft industry and food industry. However, there is an intensive competition in these sectors due to the easy. But it’s low margins of profit Due to low purchasing power of customers and high completion in SMEs.

We can conclude that Ivory Coast has unique culture and The Ivorian people are concerning about continuous of their culture. Also, they have the ability to live together despite the differences between people’s beliefs and religions.

They also have specific masks that represent their culture and cultural activities like the festival of masks.

Ivory Coast adheres to their cultural practices specifically the unique Ivorian cultural masks like: Dan, war and moral masks. Also, they have a unique style of jewelry making.



The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress




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