Griots, or their feminine counterparts, griottes, are bards from West Africa, notably in Mande and Senegalese society. They are also referred to as jelis.

Like the traditional Celtic bards, the griots have been a mixture of entertainers, praisesingers, and historians. And like their Celtic counterparts, the griots have been as soon as excessive sufficient in rank to be councilors to kings and tutors to princes. They have been additionally the data keepers, those that would keep in mind all the dates vital to a clan or village, comparable to births, wars, and deaths. A griot may function a choose, mediating arguments and advising households, and even arranging the phrases of marriage. The griots additionally have been trusted messengers to the ruling class.

In the fashionable world, few households can afford to have their very own griots, so one griot might journey from place to place. They not have their previously excessive standing, though some traces linger. In Senegal, for instance, the griots are the one public performers, and in Senegalese custom solely griots might communicate instantly to rulers. The griots are in any other case mentioned to be under the bottom standing, which will be the purpose they've such freedom.

Griots play quite a lot of musical devices, relying on every griot’s private style and coaching. The oldest instrument griots play is the balafon, a wood xylophone, however griots may play the kora, which is a harp or lute with twenty-one strings, the ngoni, a real lute, the xalam, which is performed like a guitar, or the jembe, tama, and sabar, that are three varieties of drums.