Kora vs Korying Bato

Hello all:
My Kora teacher Saikou Jobarteh explained the origin of the Kora to us in Mandingo while our translator translated to English.

Saikou said that the Kora was also called Korying Bato, or the place where people sit. Does anyone know this term, what it means, and if I spelled it correctly?


I think this is well spelled.

I was an LCF in Peace Corps Sénégal. I am Malinké from Sénégal (Kédougou) and I taught Bambara, Mandinka, Malinké and Fulani (2015–2020).

The word “bato” can have different meanings in Malinké, Mandinka and Jaxanke:

  1. worship. Ex: Ala bato beteyaata (‘Worshipping God is good’)
  2. waiting for someone or welcoming someone (normally, a VIP). Ex: Bato meeta baake ('The waiting has been long) or Bii Miami moolu ka Joe Biden Batu (‘The people of Miami are welcoming President Biden today’)
  3. The calabash of the kora itself, is called “Bato”. People used to use it as containers for alcohol or, water or even keep the seeds inside until the rainy seasons come

“Ka Korin” means to ‘gather, to meet’ (generally in a circle). It may have other meanings. For example, the person in charge of gathering the soldiers together during the reign of Jankein Wali (Kabu or Gabu empired) was titled “Kooriŋo”.

To conclude, I would explain the expression “korin bato” by the ‘instrument which gathers people together’.

That was my contribution. I now serve as a News Assistant for the New York Times, covering West and Central Africa.


I ni ce, @Lisa ! Thanks for posting our first question about Mandinka/Mandingo :slight_smile:

This Western variety of Manding is a bit outside of my wheelhouse; I have never formally studied it or traveled to any of the areas where it is spoken in the Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone or Liberia, so I can’t comment on the correct spelling or the particular meanings that might be different from the Eastern varieties of Bambara, Jula or Maninka (of Guinea).

The one thing that jumped out and which @Kamaradeni nicely gestured towards is the verb in Bambara/Jula/Maninka which means ‘circle’: koori.

On spelling, it’s worth noting that Mandinka words often use ŋ at end of words and this might be the more official spelling than korying. In Senegal, it might be spelled koriñ, but I am not sure. Besides some academic linguists, the best person that I know of to ask about this would be the user “Mandinkalanguage” on Instagram. Maybe try reaching out to them and then post any additional information here? Or who knows, maybe they’ll join the Forum :slight_smile:


Welcome to the forum Lisa! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Welcome to the forum Kamaradeni! :slightly_smiling_face:

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What I understand about the meaning of Korying bato is korying means string while bato means calabash.

Let me mention some similarities here so that the people can understand better:

Kono bato: belly
Bata kung: navel (we call it bata kung because it’s the head of the belly)

PS - I am Mandinka Language & Proverbs on Instagram.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Using post in book

Thank you Fadiga: the word bato is an interesting one- I see it can mean all of the things we have mentioned. In English, I might say it means a contained space, or a container, like a belly or a calabash.


Regarding bato homonyms in Mandinka, it is worth noting that the equivalents in Bambara/Jula/Maninka are actually written and pronounced as different words:

  • k’à bato: to worship something
  • bara: container (bata-obato in Mandinka; this is because of the use of the -o as part of definite/indefinite in nouns; this historical “morpheme” is mostly absent from Bambara/Jula/Maninka, except in tone. The correspondence between R and T is well attested between the varieties.)

In Sénégal, it is spelled “koriŋ” in Mandinka and “Kori” in Malinké/ Jaxanke.

As I previously wrote, the word can have different meanings: " koriŋo" for the one in charge of gathering soldiers at anytime. Have a read about Djankein Waly in the Gabou/ Kabou kingdom (Guinea Bissau).


Another follow-up piece of info for you, @Lisa :slight_smile:

I just came across a Bambara language text (“La prise de Dionkoloni”) where the “ngoni” (nkɔni) is referred to as the nkɔnibara:

nkɔnibara bi saba ani nkɔni duuru, u bɛ fɔ a ye

‘thirty five ngonis [lit. thirty ngonis and five ngonis] are played for him’

This use of bara in Bambara is the same as bata which becomes bato in Mandinka because of the the definite/indefinite thing I referred to above.


Super interessant Coleman, thanks. I want to study Malinke- I never have!


2 posts were split to a new topic: Questions about Mandinka