The cosmopolitan Seychellois are a colourful blend of peoples of
different races, cultures and religions. At different times in its
history, people of African, European and Asian origin have come to
Seychelles, bringing with them their distinct traditions and customs and
contributing to the way of life and to the vibrant Seychellois culture.
One can see these influences at work throughout the domains of local
art, cuisine, music, dance and architecture.
The architectural design of some of the grand old houses with their
steep roofs are representative of a style adapted for comfortable living
in the tropics that displays influences from Seychelles’ French and
British colonial heritage. Modern architecture attempts to assimilate
traditional styles with practical features designed to capture the
Local artists continue to exhibit diverse styles that echo the
multi-ethnic backdrop of the islands and bear testament to the various
influences which have come to bear. Creole music and dance have their
roots in African, Malagasy and European cultures with rhythms
traditionally accompanied by simple drums and string instruments which,
today, include such recent imports as the violin and guitar.
The traditional moutya is an erotic dance derived from the days of
slavery and still features today, together with the sega with its
colourful lyrics; the kanmtole, reminiscent of a country reel, and the
Kontredanse, an import from the French court.
Seychelles’ architecture is at once distinctive in its style and
practical in its design. It clearly illustrates the influences of its
colonial past and combines these with practical considerations such as
steep roofs to shoot the rain, wide verandas to make the most of a
climate that encourages outdoor living as well as features to make the
most of the island breezes.
Traditionally, Seychellois houses featured an outside kitchen so that
the racy aromas of the cuisine did not invade the living space.
Seychelles’ colonial past is seen in the competition between wealthy
land and plantation owners to create the most opulent approach to their
dwelling, often culminating in stately stairs on four sides.
Originally, many houses would have been roofed with thatch from the
coconut plantations but, for practical and novelty reasons, these gave
way to corrugated iron sheeting when that became available.
Many of the nation’s smaller houses imitate to a greater or lesser
extent these design features with early wooden panelling increasingly
giving way to concrete.
For such a small country, Seychelles has a vibrant art scene that
encompasses painters, sculptors, writers and poets, artisans of many
types, musicians and dancers.
Painters have traditionally taken inspiration from the richness of
Seychelles’ natural beauty to produce a wide range of works using
mediums ranging from water-colours to oils, acrylics, collages, metals,
aluminium, wood, fabrics, gouache, varnishes, recycled materials,
pastels, charcoal, embossing, etching, and giclee prints. Local
sculptors produce fine works in wood, stone, bronze and cartonnage.
Local writers and poets have also used the magnificent backdrop of
Seychelles as the inspiration for historical accounts, fascinating works
documenting the social history of the islands and its people and
collections of short stories and poems that evoke the passions of island
Throughout Seychelles, there are many artisans producing works of art
that are as varied and diverse as their surrounds and which include
stained glass, products made from coconut shell, husk, seashells and
corals, clothing, gold, silver and other forms of jewellery, recycled
materials, fibres, bamboo, metal and pottery.
Music and dance have always played a prominent role in Seychelles
culture and in all types of local festivities. Rooted in African,
Malagasy and European cultures, music is played to the accompaniment of
drums such as the Tambour and Tam-Tam and simple string instruments.
The violin and guitar are relatively recent foreign imports which play a
prominent role in today’s music.
The lively Sega dance with its elegant hip-swaying and shuffling of the
feet is still popular as is the traditional Moutya, a mysterious, erotic
dance dating back to the days of slavery when it was often used as an
outlet for strong emotions and as a way of expressing discontent.
Kanmtole is a foreign dance import, accompanied by banjos, accordion,
violin and triangle and reminiscent of a Scottish reel while the
Contredance with its intricate movements has its origins in the French
court and is danced to the strains of banjo, triangle and to the
instructions of the ‘Komandan’ or Commander who calls the sets.
Several groups of traditional dancers perform at local functions as do
modern groups playing jazz, reggae, country & western, hip-hop, ballads
and classic rock. Several choirs exist singing traditional hymns and
promoting choral music with a repertoire that includes sacred, secular,
gospel and folk pieces.
Cuisine & Recipes
Echoing the grand assortment of people who populate Seychelles, Creole
cuisine features the subtleties and nuances of French cooking, the
exoticism of Indian dishes and the piquant flavours of the
Orient.Grilled fish or octopus basted with a sauce of crushed chillies,
ginger and garlic are national favourites as are a variety of delicious
curries lovingly prepared with coconut milk and innovative chatinis made
from local fruits such as papaya and golden apple. As may be expected,
seafood dishes feature predominantly in the local cuisine, appearing
alongside the national staple, rice.
Some restaurants specialise in Indian, Chinese or Italian food and many
feature popular international and specialist dishes.Coming soon! A
selection of recipes that will bring the tastes of Seychelles straight
to your kitchen!
Before finding a mouthpiece in television, radio broadcasts and through
the written word, folklore in Seychelles relied much on oral tradition
for its dissemination.
Over the years it has traditionally, revolved around certain familiar
characters such as 'Soungula', renowned for his cleverness and
resourcefulness in solving life's problems as well as other colourful
personalities such as Bro Zako, Kader, Tizan and Kousoupa.
Certain popular fables and stories still do the rounds, dating back to
those days before television when there was little in the way of popular
entertainment and these remain mediums for providing an audience with
insights as to the correct way to live, island-style.
Round Island (Praslin)
St. Joseph Atoll
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