|Peoples:||Bambara, Mandé, Fula, Dogon, Senufo/Bwa, Touareg/Tamasheq, Songhai|
|Languages:||Over 40 languages are spoken throughout Mali|
Mali is a multiethnic country, with a majority of its today's population consisting of Mandé peoples.
The Mali Empire was a West African empire of the Mandika from 1230 to 1600. It had many profound cultural influences on West Africa, allowing the spread of its languages, laws and customs along the Niger river.
Mali's key industry is agriculture. They largely produce cotton, but also rice, millet, corn, vegetables, tobacco and tree crops.
The population is predominantly rural and 5 to 10% of the Malians are nomadic.
The varied everyday culture of Malians reflect the country's ethnic and geographic diversity.
Malian musical traditions are derived from the "griots" who are known as "keepers of memories". Mali has always been one of Africa's liveliest intellectual centers.
Mali's literary tradition is passed down mainly by word of mouth, with jalis; reciting or singing histories and stories known by heart.
The ancient empire of Mali was rich of different art forms, as is the country today. Traditionally, art was practical and had day-to-day meaning linked to religion, health, village harmony and successful agriculture.
Textiles in West Africa are typically colourful and patterned. Traditional or abstract designs are painted onto sheets of rough cloth using various types of soil for colour.
Wooden sculptures are usually stylized, not naturalistic and consist mostly of a single form. Gender is very important, so the sizes of body parts are exaggerated, particularly the head, buttocks, breasts and navel.
Masks are carved and used to disguise the wearer as they impersonate ancestors or spirits. The antelope-like masks of the Bambara, called "chiwaras", are the elaborate Dogon masks. When a Dogon dies, the spirit of the deceased is believed to take up residence in a mask. Therefore, these are most important in funeral rites. The Dogon also make elaborate carved wooden doors, locks and house posts for their mud buildings.
Sources: Site mali.pwnet.org/culture/culture_arts.htm, Site voyage-photos.com/Afrique/Mali/Bamako, Wikipedia