May 31, 2015

1621 TOGO - Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba (UNESCO WHS)

The Koutammakou landscape is home to the Batammariba (or Tammari people, also known as Somba) whose remarkable mud tower-houses (takienta) have come to be seen as a symbol of Togo. In this landscape, nature is strongly associated with the rituals and beliefs of society. Many of the buildings are two storeys high and those with granaries feature an almost spherical form above a cylindrical base. Some of the buildings have flat roofs, others have conical thatched roofs.

They are grouped in villages, which also include ceremonial spaces, springs, rocks and sites reserved for initiation ceremonies. Koutammakou is the name of a large semi-mountainous region located in north-eastern Togo and which extends into neighbouring Benin. Koutammakou is an outstanding example of territorial occupation by a people in constant search of harmony between man and the surrounding nature. The takienta, a basic family dwelling where technical, utilitarian and symbolic elements are combined, is unique.

Although many dwellings of the region possess fairly strong symbolic dimensions, none possess such a close interrelationship between symbolism, function and technique.  This particular type of dwelling, which owes its aesthetic aspect to the spectacular shapes, is the result of the creative genius of the Batammariba: "those who model the earth" or, by extension, "the good masons" according to the translation of some anthropologists.

The traditional dwelling remains a current model.  Throughout the region it may be noted that the life cycle of the buildings remains: construction, abandon, demolition and reconstruction of the ruins.  A close observation might reveal changes in the type of materials used, the traditional model persists because the house is more than a dwelling: it is a temple dedicated to worship!  Therefore, even the ground floor area reserved for the animals and the presence of granaries remain essential features. Thus, many "modern" houses are completed by a traditional dwelling which, if sometimes of reduced dimensions, retains all the traditional characteristics.

About the stamp

The stamp is part of a series issued in 2012 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of diplomatic Relations between China and Togo. It depict a tulou (earthen building), a traditional communal residence in the Fujian province of Southern China, and a takienta (mud tower-houses) of Batammariba people.

This is a post for Sunday Stamps II-24, run by Violet Sky from See It On A Postcard. The theme of this week is: Places to live . Click here to visit Violet’s blog and all the other participants.

Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba - UNESCO official website

Sender: Taduvik Versatche
Sent from Lome (Togo), on 17.11.2014


  1. I learn so much about the world from your entries.

    1. I learn also many things when I'm doing research. And I like to do that. I consider postcards a means to get closer to the world.

  2. They look rather forbidding and must be quite dark inside, but I bet they are also cool.

  3. Hello Danut,
    Nice postcard and interesting blog!
    I'm following you, view my blog:

  4. The buildings on the card look more primitive than those on the stamp. An informative post as usual.

    1. Probably that for the stamp was chosen the most neat structure, and for the postcard one at random.

  5. I love the meaning of their name, fascinating structures