Traditionally, the types of arts that have been popular in Comoros since early times are many of the same types that you’ll find in other nearby regions and countries. Basket weaving and woodcarving are two types that are quite common, especially when used in the homes, such as carved furniture and doorways. Arabian-influenced architecture is prominent throughout the islands, especially in mosque design, but it also lends itself to other types of buildings as well.
Textile work, especially intricate and ornate embroidery work is something many Comorians do. It’s common on clothing and hats. I used to do embroidery when I was in 4-H as a kid, so I know how hard to do by hand (at least it was for someone who’s not domesticated, like me, and if you’re trying to do it so it looks good.). I was even using a pattern, and I still wasn’t all that great. I forget all of the different kinds of stitches now. But it’s something that I’ve always admired and wish I could do better.
Comorians are also known for their jewelry making, using gold and silver filigree. Filigree (a new term for me), is when you take small beads or twisted metal threads or both and solder them together or to another surface to create a lace-like appearance. Many of these filigree pieces become either jewelry – earrings, necklace pendants, bracelets – or pieces designed to sit around.
These days, street art and graffiti art have slowly started to emerge as an art form in Comoros. Some artists, like Socrome, use graffiti art as a means of cultural expression, and it often brings together both French and Comorian cultures. It’s not something widely thought of in Comoros, but it’s starting to be seen more often, especially in urban areas, in both French and Arabic. I’ve always been fascinated at street art and graffiti, especially when in foreign countries. And I had always wanted to get a picture of the few pieces I saw in Japan and Brazil. I guess one day, I’ll travel the world just taking pictures and collecting music and eating and then writing about it all.
Early Comorian literature is mostly a collection of folk tales mixed with historical accounts. A lot of these stories were influenced by Arabian stories, written down by the upper crust of society: princes and other members of the aristocracy. Of course, a lot of these stories have been passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. One type of common folk tale is called hali and usually ends in a moral, like a fable. A lot of literature is written in Comorian, but also in French and Arabic.
One famous poet is Aboubacar Said Salim. It was hard to find information about him in English, but I did find a biography about him in French. He studied in France, but he returned to Comoros to teach French. He was the president of the Club Kalam, an organization for Comorian writers.
Abdou Salam Baco is actually from Mayotte. He did his studies in Saint-Etienne in central France and returned to Mayotte as a Doctor of Economic History. He’s written three novels in the meantime and is also a musician.
Up next: music and dance