Ethnik series: Fulani people

Ethnik series: Fulani people
09/29/2016 Alicia L.

Following the Ethnik Series, today I will post about the most beautiful tribe on the planet. A nomadic people with an incredible jewelry like the Kuchi tribe.

Fula, Fulbe or Fulani people, what an amazing tribe, a tribe of 20 million! They are the largest nomadic group in the world.

Most of them are nomads and they are spread over many African countries, especially in West Africa. They were the first group of people in West Africa to convert to Islam.

Characterized by the lighter skin and straighter hair, some Africans even refer to them as “white people” or “the beautiful tribe”. What do you think? I say yes!

fulan men

The Fulani are primarily nomadic herders and traders. Through their nomadic lifestyle, they established numerous trade routes in West Africa. As times goes on, the modes of transportation throughout West Africa have become more modernized.

This modernization in transportation puts the Fulani at risk of losing their identity as nomads and forces them to settle in farms and villages. This often creates other problems, as the Fulani are a very proud people of a unique culture and are used to ruling over the other people groups.

The Fulani hold to a strict caste system. The four caste subdivisions are the nobility, merchants, blacksmiths, and descendants of slaves of wealthy Fulani.

A distinctive difference between the Fulani and other African people is that the Fulani have a huge respect for beauty. Beauty is considered very important and one of the ways this is shown is through tattoos that are put all over the body. A distinguishing feature of a Fulani woman is her lips, which are many times a blackish color from the use of Henna or tattooing is done on the mouth.

fulani man

Younger men and women adorn themselves with jewelry and headdresses, and they braid their hair.

fulan woman

Fulani craftsmen have been hand-forging their classic seedpod-like jewelry for centuries. Originally crafted in gold, traditional pieces like the famous gold Fulani earrings are extremely labor-intensive, requiring two weeks of full-time work to complete.

They make an instant impression with their glimmering, twisted appearance. Hand-crafted in Mali, the Fulani gold is actually twisted bronze but was believed to be gold by the Fulani people for some time. The bronze is hammered till it is nearly paper thin and then twisted to create the intricate look of the earrings. Check this site out to learn how to create your Fulani earrings.
fulani earrings

Image via

Fulani family wealth would be customarily worn by women in the form of jewelry like these earrings—to be carried with them at all times. They are evocative of nobility.
The Fulani cuff is based on a design that has been worn for centuries, the cuffs are made using old brass bracelets as raw material, melting them in a clay crucible and molding them into square rods that are heated and hammered over a bed of coals on the clay floor.
With very narrow hammers worked against stakes set into the floor, the rods are shaped into a multi-edged blade, which is then twisted and plated with bright 24-karat gold.

If there are metalsmiths out there, you will find this video interesting:

You can read more about this tribe here.

Comments (13)

  1. Nathalie 4 years ago

    I had never heard of them. they are indeed beautiful!

  2. Tina 4 years ago

    Interesting post. I had never heard of the Fulani tribe before.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Anna 4 years ago

    It’s very interesting to know more from ancient craftsmanship technics. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Ruby 4 years ago

    Love this! I actually know a lot of people from West Africa but not traditionally living……this is really nice to see!

  5. Elena Mirtilla 4 years ago

    very interesting and such a lovely pictures!

  6. Arctida 4 years ago

    Interesting post! They truly do look beautiful….

  7. Star of the East 4 years ago

    Never heard of these, loved to see how they make them!

    • Author
      Alicia L. 4 years ago

      Yes, the process is very interesting

  8. emilie 4 years ago

    I did not knew anything about them.
    Thanks for sharing! Great to discover!

    • Author
      Alicia L. 4 years ago

      Now you will see the Fulani earrings everywhere, there are a lot of replicas!

  9. Ildi 4 years ago

    Alicia, thanks for sharing! YEs, I love the colorful Fulani earrings and the hair style are gorgeous!!!!

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