The Bijagos

A people with matriarchal patterns

The Bijagos Islands in Guinea-Bissau are home to the Bijagos people, a community characterized by matriarchal structures and consisting of approximately 30,000 individuals. Women play a significant role: they often choose their husbands, own the houses, lead the families, and organize the work. The Bijagos believe in the omnipresence of spirits and particularly venerate old trees, around which special ceremonies are organized. Additionally, women oversee the important task of guiding the souls of the deceased to heaven.

A traditional ritual among the Bijagos is the Fanado. During this ritual, men and women separate and retreat to sacred forests, accompanied by experienced elders, to undergo secret shamanistic ceremonies and invocations. During this time, they avoid all contact with the opposite sex for six months to four years. As a symbol of completing the ritual, different patterns are carved into the skin, which are treated daily with palm oil until they are fully healed. Generally, men bear smaller markings than women. The goal of the Fanado is to establish a spiritual connection and promote personal growth. It is an intense ritual that brings physical and emotional challenges. However, those who survive it are highly respected in the community and receive a higher social status.

 

Ionilda, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Indira, Bijagos-Archipel, "017
Orango, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Ionilda, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Old bike, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Joana, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Natcha, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Odete, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Grandfather and grandson, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Qeba, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Nuna, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Sunset, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Family, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Dara, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Jung women, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Augusto, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Vania, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Yugu, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Palmtrees, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
King Bang André, Bijagos_archipel, 2017
Sabato und Keane, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Diablo, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Mamai, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017
Wundere, Bijagos-Archipel, 2017