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Location: Guinea, small areas of Sierra Leone and Liberia
Population: 350,000

Arts and History: The Kissi,are a mostly agrarian culture living in small villages over a wide area of the West African coast, though the majority live in Guinea. They have lived in these same areas for many hundreds of years, though little is known of their history. Their artistic output is limited, consisting mostly of objects of a utilitarian nature, like baskets and weaving on vertical looms. They have, however, become associated with an interesting figural soapstone carving, called a "pombo." The product of generations past, perhaps as long as 800 years ago, these small figures, usually less than 8 inches, are one of the few examples of ritual stone carvings extant in all of West Africa. They are thought to have been placed in small shrines in the rice fields, to insure a successful harvest. Today they are reportedly unearthed in these fields, which are still being farmed. They are, in turn, reused ritually. It has been reported that the little figures are given offerings when the rice crop thrives, but "whipped" when the harvest is poor! The stone composition of these charming little mysteries makes scientific dating impossible, so their age can only be guessed at. The only other art form associated with the Kissi are the crude iron spade-shaped "pennies," used for marriage exchanges. There are few other forms of note, identifiable ones anyway. One would think that the presence of the powerful "Poro" society would require the use of masks and figures but, so far, none have been specifically linked to the Kissi.