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Zaouli, cultural heritage of Côte d’Ivoire

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Zaouli 1. Summary Zaouli is a folk music and dance performed in the Guro community living in Buaflé and Zuénoula cities, in the western center part of Cote d’Ivoire. More specifically, the Gnan community of Goitafla, the Man community of Manfla and Minigui, and the Wadjè village of Buaflé and Bogopinfla. These communities belong to the southern Mandé ethnic language group. Major related villages include Zrabisseifla, Bléfla, Mangfla, Marminigwi, Tibeita, Dianfla, and Buafla. People from these communities, regardless age or gender difference have a deep relationship with the Zaouli heritage, and have been carrying it throughout their lives since they were very young. The mask dance is practiced not only during joyful ceremonies but also for funerals and rituals. 2. Origins of Zaouli In most african countries, the belief in the existence of two dominant worlds( the physical world and the spiritual or metaphysical world) have a deep influence on people’s everyday life, so on the morals and cultural practises. In fact, there are two types dance: the masked (or hidden) dance and the unmasked (or exposed) dance. The first one concerns the Zaouli of the Guro population in Cote d’Ivoire, which is a dance that used a masked and special wearing technic. There are several masked dances that represents Guro people’s culture such as Djéla, Flaly, Bei Péénin (Bgopinfla village), Pawè (Tibéita village) but Zaouli (Zrabisseifla village) stays the most famous in that part of Cote d’Ivoire. The origins of Zaouli vary form one source to another, but we can summarise them in two types of considerations. The first one is based on a more spirit-oriented legend and the second one on factual creative and cultural act. 2.1 the zaouli legend[1] The myth around the creation of Zaouli gives usan explanation about his of name: Djèla Lou Zahouli which mean Zaouli, Djela’s daughter. In fact the Zaouli dancer who wears the mask is man but representing a feminine figure. Zah was the only daughter of a man. Her magical beauty impressed the whole community to the point that her fame went beyond the borders of her region of origin (Zara bi Sehifla/Gohitafla). The whole region thus seduced by this admirable beauty spoke of Zah appreciatively and permanently. However, one day, after a short illness, Zah suddenly died. This dramatic situation which makes his father (Djèla) unhappy and inconsolable to the point that everywhere he went, he cried for his deceased daughter. She was buried in pain because no one wanted to part with her. But the most painful, was for him to meet other young girls in the village. Like an haunted person, the sight of those girls always brought back memories of Zah. He mourned her everywhere: in the village, at the camp, in the backwater, while hunting, etc. One day, during a hunting trip, he began to cry profusely and was inconsolable. He wept so much that his daughter's (returning) spirit appeared to him in the form of a snake. This consoled him. However, to make him stop crying for good, the snake vomits up seven masks with the effigy of the face of Zah, his deceased daughter. The snake later revealed to him that these masks should be the subject of a dance, the future Djèla Lou Zahouli. This is why he also showed the dance steps. 2.2 Contemporary origins The contempory history of the Guro population places the creation of Zaouli around 1950s by a group of seven friends, among them Sonnin Bi Tah called Wonninla, KOUAHI Bi Vohizié the fisrt Zaouli dancer and leader and KOUAHI Bi Dueh Jean-Piere, the only one still alive[2]. According to Zamble Bi Zamble Gaspard[3], one day, on the occasion of a funeral ceremony in Zirifla (Zuénoula) as usual, these seven friends, plus many other people from Zara Bi Sehifla, went to Zirifla to take an active part in funerals. During these, a mask named Blou (hernia in the Gouro language) will particularly mark them thanks to his legendary performance and his talent. But Blou is a hideous-faced mask that contrasts with the talent he shows. The seven friends therefore decide to found the same dance in their village Zara Bi Séhifla, with the difference that they will change the morphology of the mask by carving it with the effigy of a woman named Klanin (small basin). These masks were three at the start: Zahouli Lou Klanin, Zahouli Lou Monhon, Zaleklou having a hawk and a snake on his head. After carving the first three masks, they will spend a year and six months in the bush to learn the dance steps and the rhythms of the orchestration. It is after this initiation that they will make their first performance in the public square of the village. On the designation of the mask, according to the informant, the Zahouli mask was so named by what is considered the eldest daughter of Djèla. Subsequently, they will complete the first three masks, with four others: Zamblé, Gou, Bognan Lou Zeli and Mami Watta who carries on her head seven snakes being seduced by this water goddess herself. Thus, the implementation and final fixing of the codes of Djèla Lou Zahouli was completed. 3. The Zaouli dance When the mask must occur because all these conditions are met (co-presence of the mask, the orchestra and the public), he goes out, sits down and naturally waits for the orchestra to give him the alert. The orchestra is composed by more than ten musicians who plays five different kind of tambour (flihin blin, Djéhimba, Klaglé, Krinnin krinin, Poho, Tombalo, Flinhin wouhokounzan, etc.) and three flutes called Beli[4]. The lead singer, a member of the orchestra, sings the first song. This song is taken up in chorus first by the other members of the orchestra. When the mask comes, his guide (Zaouli Zouhozanki) first put off the headscarf (locally called pagne) that covers not only the head by all the upper side of the body. The Zaouli dance is based the slipping technic The mask performs extremely fast dance steps and rhythms by the flutes of the orchestra. In fact some sources count it among the most impossible dances in the word[5]. Before its classification as World Heritage, The best of them, which were auditioned by a UNESCO jury, one of the best Zaouli dancer’s foot steps were timed at more than 200 steps per minute[6]. The mask must be original and imaginative while executing the dance steps. He must never do the same things twice at the risk of being discredited. Several dancers can follow one another and compete their talents in front of the public which appreciates. It is a parade of seven different masks that dance in turn. The subject in the songs relates either to proverbs, to the Guro cosmogony or to legends. The Zaouli is a total art combining music and dance, weaving, mask and costume. 4. The mask and his costume From one village to another the pieces of the costumes remain the same but the colors and their textures can change. the costumes rely entirely on the dancer. He wears stockings and sleeves. His head completely hidden by the mask. He wears a raffia skirt and a loincloth attached to the mask covers the upper body. His hands hold fly swatters in an ox tail. The dancer has bells attached to his ankles, below which are also attached raffia fibers. The mask represents a face often surmounted by figures of animals such as snakes, panthers, birds, characters or ram's horns. 4.1 The snake The circular serpent plays a fundamental role in the semanticization of the myth and in the relationship it establishes between the past and the present. The myth of Zaouli informs that it was in the form of a snake that the ghost, the nyama, the double of the young girl appeared to her inconsolable father. This variety of snake is likened to the rainbow. In the mentality of the Gouro, the rainbow is the celestial representation of this serpent. The reminder of the genesis and the strong acts that marked it reappear in this myth where the snake is in full complicity with the young girl (gouro reincarnation of Eve?). However, when appearing, the serpent presents itself in two fundamental aspects: the circular shape; rainbow snake. First, the circular shape naturally recalls the circle. It is this shape that the sculptors take up when carving the mask. In his presentation, the Zahouli always has a smiling face, surrounded by a circular snake which holds in front of him a bird which he does not eat. 4.2 The Bird The revelation of the pigeon as the Zahouli's eternal companion is that the bird's locomotion system allows it to go in all directions and at high altitude. Pigeons travel. They are migratory birds that travel thousands of kilometers sometimes going from one continent to another and crossing oceans. This mask has traveled all over the world, traveling all continents and participating in most festivals where the most representative Negro-African arts have been invited. The Zahouli de Tibéita (Bouaflé) has been released on May 2004 in the United States of America where he participated in the Negro Arts Festival entitled “Memphis in May”. As we can see, the Zahouli actually travels around the world spreading its initial spirit: life. 5. Zaouli in the world’s culture In 2015, The British-Sri Lankan rapper Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam known by her stage name M.I.A. included a clip of a Zaouli dancer in her music video for the song "Warrior"[7], released as part of the video Matahdatah Scroll 01: Broader Than A Border. the Zaouli of Manfla was released in November 2017 in South Korea on the occasion of the elevation of Zaouli by UNESCO as an element of world heritage. From that time foreward Ivorian traditional music has been promoted in South Korea through an African dance team named AMENE, which permitted mixed representation of Korean Pop music and Zaouli. It is the K-pop girl group Nature that released In 2022, a music video for their single "Rica Rica", featuring choreography which is heavily inspired by the Zaouli dance[8]. The group was trained by a Djembe master KONATE Ibrahim who plays an important role for the ivoirian culutre in Asia and South Korea. In 2018, the Zaouli dance was presented at the Ohio University World Music & Dance Concert[9] in USA. In addition, a popular video that includes the song "Bungee Jump" by electronic music artists Captain Hook & Astrix utilizes footage of Zaouli dancers[10]. Sources [1].TOUOUI BI IRIE ERNEST Professor at Félix Houphouët- Boigny University https://www.fratmat.info/article/86132/63/connaissance-du-zahouli-un-moment-d-instruction-sur-le-masque-et-sa-prestation-a-travers-des-cles-d-appreciation. retrieved on March 23 2022 [2]. , a report of NCI channel (Nouvelle chaine Ivoirenne), 2020.11.4. nenws of 7:50 pm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfTn6nhh9_8 watched on March 22nd 2022 [3].Oral source informant for TOUOUI BI IRIE ERNEST Professor at Félix Houphouët- Boigny University. https://www.fratmat.info/article/86132/63/connaissance-du-zahouli-un-moment-d-instruction-sur-le-masque-et-sa-prestation-a-travers-des-cles-d-appreciation. retrieved on March 23rd 2022) [4]. https://heritage.unesco.or.kr/%EC%9E%90%EC%9A%B8%EB%A6%AC-%EC%BD%94%ED%8A%B8%EB%94%94%EB%B6%80%EC%95%84%EB%A5%B4-%EA%B5%AC%EB%A1%9C-%EA%B3%B5%EB%8F%99%EC%B2%B4%EC%9D%98-%EB%8C%80%EC%A4%91%EC%9D%8C%EC%95%85%EA%B3%BC-%EC%B6%A4/ retrived 2022.3.25. [5].https://cuitandokter.com/ by otosection (most impossible dance in the world). retrived 2022.3.25. [6]. fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaouli, (our translation form french) retrieved 2022.03.21. [7].https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/watch-m-i-a-s-matahdatah-video-featuring-new-124014565431.html retrieved 2022.3.23. [8]. 맹선미 기자. 네이처 ‘RICA RICA’ 특별 퍼포맨스 영상… 아프리카 댄스와 자울리춤 컬래버. 비즈엔터 http://enter.etoday.co.kr/view/news_view.php?varAtcId=219356 retrieved 2022.3.25. [9]. https://www.ohio.edu/news/archive/stories_17-18_03_world-dance-music-festival-2018.cfm retrieved 2022.3.24 [10]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQXIDmb99uY retrieved 2022.3.25. Recommended videos 1. Folklore gouro, Cote d'Ivoire, (Glozran1) 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M512glKnl64 [코트디브아르 아프리카 이야기] 페스티벌 마사 Festival MASA 'Zaouli' 3. NATURE(네이처) X AMENE - RICA RICA Behind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=my77ACUKZWg

Information of intangible cultural heritage

Category : Representative List

Number : 01255

Year : 2017

Venue : Côte d'Ivoire

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