Senufo-Tagba of West Africa

illustrated village including buildings and a woman


hands holding grain and scythe pictograph

Hunters provide the society with meat. The animals raised in the compounds are used for sacrifice, work, or sale, not meals. Like other specialists in the village, hunters divide their time between hunting and farming.

Senufo hunting is done mainly with guns, though trapping is also done. The skills of hunting are passed down from father to son. The most commonly hunted animals are birds and rabbits, as larger game is scarce. If the amount of game killed is large, some of the meat will be sold. But if the amount brought back is small, pieces will be divided among the hunter's parents, elder sister, and first wife.

men gathered around for the hunter's dance
In this hunter's dance, one man wears a costume representing an animal the Tagba hunt.
a band performing
The band performing here is made up of hunters.
man plays instrument
The studs on this hunter's instrument (kora) spell out the name of his village.
a man wearing a traditional hunter's costume
The hunter in this photograph is carrying a fly whisk, a swatter used to keep flies away from the body. It has been made from the hair of a bush pig the hunter killed himself. The whisk is a kind of graduating symbol, indicating that the hunter has killed a worthy prey.


A hunter's traditional outfit is a shirt, hat, and pants made of mud cloth. Mud cloth is dyed and designed in natural colors that allow the hunters to blend in with the landscape. The clothes have many pockets and loops for carrying supplies and knives the hunters will need. Amulets are placed on the clothing for protective purposes. Sometimes the purpose of the amulet is to make the hunter invisible to his prey.


Hunters retire when their vision goes bad or their muscles cannot take the work anymore. At this point, they become the caregivers of the small children in their families. This allows the parents time to concentrate on their chores and the grandparents time to share their wisdom and experience with their grandchildren.