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Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò - Culture - Nairaland

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Art And Architecture Of The Igbo People / The Art And Architecture Of Yorubaland! / Benin Art And Architecture (1) (2) (3) (4)

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Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 11:30pm On Jul 31, 2012
The architecture of the Igbo people is almost as diverse as other parts of their culture. This thread will showcase different types of traditional buildings built mainly before colonisation and will include their origin and history if available. If you are going to contribute please include the origin of the building.

Most Igbo houses were private houses built alongside other buildings in a family compound enclosed by a large wall. The main entrance was usually a gate. The main materials used in building Igbo houses include mud, timber and raffia/palm stems which are used for the wall support of the walls and roofs, and the roof. There were different kinds of shapes and and sizes of buildings and compounds, which most buildings were housed in, and of course public buildings as well.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 11:39pm On Jul 31, 2012
Mbari houses were found among the communities in and around Owere (Oratta Igbo) and were shrines dedicated to many alusi or deities, but usually to the mother earth Ala. The Mbari are built in a square foundation with one small story above the ground floor. The ground floor is filled with statues and images of women, men, children, animals, mythical creatures and deities. The Mbari usually features four columns and is mostly painted wil uli designs.

This Mbari is a replica built in a museum:



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Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 11:44pm On Jul 31, 2012
There were many war towers built in the middle of the last millenium in what is now the Anambra area of south eastern Nigeria mainly because of the wars and raiding that consumed the northern Igbo region. The war towers were known by many different names including uno aja and were usually two storied, had little to no windows, had one carved door as an entrance and were built with solid and thick mud walls with a raffia roof. This example below come from Ukpor and was built in the 17th-18th century by a man named Dike Madueke.



"DIKE’S ANCIENT WAR TOWER (UKPOR)
Any person referred to as ‘Dike’ in Igbo land is a great man and must have performed an extraordinary feat to deserve the title. In times past, it was used for great warriors who had shown exceptional bravery at war. Dike Madueke, who lived and died in Ukpor before 1700, falls under this category. He is reputed as the greatest warrior in Ukpor land. He led the people to many wars, perfecting a strategy that enabled the people defeat their enemies all around. The early European adventurers who came to Ukpor met such stiff resistance from the local soldiers that they had to retreat for re-enforcement before they were able to subdue the people.

It was said that in the process of perfecting his war strategies, Dike Madueke erected in his family compound which still stand today, a twenty-foot tall multi-purpose pyramid tower that aided the people to thwart the plans of their enemies. The interior of the tower has three decks, spy holes all around it and with the aid of ladder people climb from one deck to another. a sentry is constantly posted on top of the deck from where he observes the surrounding are and reports the movement of soldiers from every direction. The middle rung is reserved for sharp-shooters armed with Dane guns and darts. The height gives them the advantage of reach over enemy soldiers.

The ground floor of the tower is the most spacious and acts as a refuge for women and children, considered the most vulnerable in war times. While the men fight, they ensure their loved ones are protected from attack. Dike’s tower has recently been reduced in height to enable maintenance and preservation of this important historical monument. It has survived years of weathering due to special indigenous architectural skill that went into its construction, which according to the people has been lost, years ago. The walls, hedging the Madueke family compound are as old as the tower itself and still stand as strong as ever. One cannot claim to have seen the ingenuity of the Igbo people during the early years without a visit to Dike’s tower at Ukpor town in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State.

Dike Madueke is also reputed as a powerful rainmaker in his days. The art of rainmaking in Igbo land is one that can only be inherited; a jealously guarded secret of families that are its custodian. See more about the art of rain making as we take you to cultural practices of Igbo people."

http://www.nacd.gov.ng/Anambra_state_Tourist_sites.htm

http://ukpor-fb.org/tourism.html
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 11:57pm On Jul 31, 2012


Mbari house, Umowa town, Oratta Ibo, just completed, 1933.

— G. I. Jones

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Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by Crayola1: 11:59pm On Jul 31, 2012

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Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by odumchi: 12:02am On Aug 01, 2012
Nice thread, Ezeagu.

Ekpe Lodges

In pre-colonial times, Ekpe lodges were one of the most important buildings that existed in Eastern Igbo communities. They were situated at the heart of villages and were symbols of autonomy. Once a village had an Ekpe ledge, it was considered autonomous since the presence of the lodge suggested that it was capable of governing itself.

The lodges were centers of government, learning, and diplomacy. Within them, court cases, communal affairs, law legislation, and diplomacy were discussed. It was forbidden for non-Ekpe members to enter them (especially women and children). Even during European colonization, Ekpe lodges were used as temporary government houses until permanent structures were built. Nowadays, they are still significant because Ekpe members still gather within them.

The lodges were built with mud bricks and their exterior walls were decorated with Nsibiri ideograms. Their roofs were made of raffia palms and grass roots.

I will post a picture of an Ekpe lodge soon.

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Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 2:45am On Aug 01, 2012
These houses are from titled men of Onicha and may have Benin influence.



ONITSHA [IGBO]. Chief Ogbua’s house. Entrance portice seen from within.

— Zbigniew Dmochowski, Introduction to Nigerian Traditional Architecture: South Eastern Nigeria v. 3.



Measurements and diagram drawn from the picture above.

ONITSHA [IGBO]. Chief Ogbua’s house.
— Zbigniew Dmochowski, Introduction to Nigerian Traditional Architecture: South Eastern Nigeria v. 3.

The house was (or is) part of a compound and is supported by large mud columns. I remember seeing similar styled columns in the Benin Art and Architecture thread. Maybe this is a Benin influence or just a commonality.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 2:54am On Aug 01, 2012


Obu in Asaga Ohafia with a Ikoro slit drum. The greater Obu was owned by one man in the early part of the 20th century.



"Figures along the wall of the obu". The photos were taken by G.I. Jones who spent much of his life studying and documenting Igbo culture.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 2:57am On Aug 01, 2012


EBENEBE. [IGBO] Carved openwork screen.
— Zbigniew Dmochowski, Introduction to Nigerian Traditional Architecture: South Eastern Nigeria v. 3.

This kind of door was found around Oka and areas surrounding. The doors were carved with unique designs that sometime mimicked scarification design on peoples skin or uli designs.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:02am On Aug 01, 2012
From Oka (Awka)



AWKA NIBO NISE. Compound of Agubalu Ebe. Two-storeyed tower.
— Zbigniew Dmochowski, Introduction to Nigerian Traditional Architecture: South Eastern Nigeria v. 3.

An Oka building (tower) with two stories, used for defence in times of war. This is an example of pre-colonial multi-storeyed buildings including those of the north. There is no know "first story building" in Nigeria.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:07am On Aug 01, 2012
A more general design of uri on a compound wall from an unknown Igbo town or village.



"TRADITIONAL IGBO GATE PAINTED WITH ULI MOTIFS USED IN BODY DECORATION." Chike C. Aniakor. Probably from the northern Igbo region around Anambra, although uli or uri can be found everywhere in Igboland.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:14am On Aug 01, 2012
Moving away from the north and toward the Bende region of Abia state in the south we see more examples of multi-storeyed buildings from traditional African architecture. The building was built with two-stories and a set of stairs. This was probably owned by a wealthy trader.



A diagram of the whole house.



The wood panel inside the house on the ground floor.



Upstairs balcony.



Another diagram with both of the floors shown and also the staircase shown leading to the top. There seems to be only one window on the side of the house shown.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:17am On Aug 01, 2012
There seems to be a literary bias towards the towns in and around Anambra, although this may just be from what is available online. More from the north:



"PAINTED, [IGBO] CARVED DOOR. NIMO.
— Fred T. Smith"
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:47am On Aug 01, 2012
I'm not sure which part of Igboland this is but it was made less than 20 years ago.



"Mural by Onuigbo Aghadinuno, Orno, 1995. Photo: Sarah Adams, 1995."
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 12:41pm On Aug 01, 2012
Onicha



"ONITSHA [IGBO]. Chief Umera Ozi’s house. Inside the front verandah.

— Zbigniew Dmochowski, Introduction to Nigerian Traditional Architecture: South Eastern Nigeria v. 3."
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 12:45pm On Aug 01, 2012
Nnobi, Anambra.



"THE ENTRANCE TO THE COMPOUND OF TRADITIONAL ULI ARTIST MGBADUNWA OKANUMME, WHO DECORATED HER WALLS FOR THE ASHA OLU FESTIVAL. NNOBI, DECEMBER 1986.

— Liz Willis"
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 12:46pm On Aug 01, 2012
Owere people again.



"THE NNORIE MBARI AFTER THE PAINTING OF GEOMETRIC DESIGNS, JUST AS THE WORKERS ARE BEGINNING TO PAINT THE MODELED FIGURES "
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 2:50pm On Aug 01, 2012
Enugu, I believe the Ngwo people. Another traditional two-storey building.



"Compound of Aninwande Onyia. Owner’s house. [Ngwo Amankwo Etiti].

— Zbigniew Dmochowski, Introduction to Nigerian Traditional Architecture: South Eastern Nigeria v. 3."
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 2:51pm On Aug 01, 2012
Children infront of a compound gate around the Nri-Awka area in Anambra state.



"Carved wooden door, Nri-Awka [Igbo], forming gateway into walled compound.
— G. I. Jones, early 20th century."
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:03pm On Aug 01, 2012
Another two-storied building from Emene Owo. Someone please give information of which state/region Emene Owo is located in and whether it's a town or village, thanks.



"EMENE OWO. Compound of Nnaji Umuoshim. S.W.wall of main building, called ogbese, with ladder to the first floor.

— Zbigniew Dmochowski, Introduction to Nigerian Traditional Architecture: South Eastern Nigeria v. 3."
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:09pm On Aug 01, 2012
Unknown origin, but this Mbari is obviously from around the Owere area.



The Mbari was a spiritual center left to dilapidate in honor of a deity, usually Ala the earth deity.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ChinenyeN(m): 3:21pm On Aug 01, 2012
Here's what makes me upset. It takes a high degree of specialized language in order to communicate these architectural ideas; language that involves terminology for the concepts of geometry, measurement and logistics. The lack of active written records also means that people had no choice but to really know what it was they were doing and also know how to communicate that knowledge to others that they were working with, because otherwise, they would not be able to produce these works. I wonder now how many people still have this knowledge and to the same specialized degree. The lexicon would be invaluable to language development.

Anyway, let me not break the flow here. I just felt like getting that out of my mind.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:28pm On Aug 01, 2012
Yeah, I wonder what the different communities called 'floors', 'stairs', 'stair case', 'geometry', 'cube', 'balcony' and hundreds of other features seen in these buildings.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:32pm On Aug 01, 2012
Some figures in Owere associated Mbari 'houses' or temples.





The one below is 'Mami Wata', or owu miri or whatever this particular figure is called in the Owere area.

Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 3:33pm On Aug 01, 2012


Mbari house "To Ala. Ala is an Igbo spiritual force.", "Front side at Eziala Inyelogugu", "Near Owere". Herbert M. Cole. 1973.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 4:16pm On Aug 01, 2012
A man's house (obu or obi) in an unknown part of Igboland in the 1980s.



"Obu/Obi house, Aniakor (1989)."
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 4:27pm On Aug 01, 2012
Compound with a war tower.



"AN I[G]BO CHIEF’S COMPOUND, WITH WAR-TOWER AND INNER WALL; NATIVES LISTENING TO PHONOGRAPH; AZIA, ONITSHA DISTRICT.

— A. E. Kitson"
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 5:37pm On Aug 01, 2012
Mbari interior



You can see it's very female based, and theres a depiction of the sun and moon. Also, there seems to be miniature windows and doors for the statues.
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 5:39pm On Aug 01, 2012
Mould of Jesus in an Mbari from the Owere area.



"Igbo Syncretism: Jesus Christ in an Mbari dedicated to the earth goddess.

HERE CHRIST IS TRANSPOSED TO AN MBARI COLUMN, BUT WITHOUT HIS CROSS. A CEMENT CRUCIFIX IN A MISSION COMPOUND PROBABLY INSPIRED THIS WORK IN THE MBARI TO ALA IN OGBEKE OCHA. ARTIST: EZEM.
— Herbert M. Cole"
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 5:41pm On Aug 01, 2012
Shrine room from what is now Enugu State, on the Nike lands, and not a long distance from Enugu city which is partly on Nike land.



"Shrine with mud and wood train. G.I. Jones. Nike, 1935."
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 5:42pm On Aug 01, 2012
Does anyone from Imo know where Mumoyo is? Mbari shrine.



"Mbari at “Mumoyo”."
Re: Igbo Architecture | Ụlọ omé n'Ìgbò by ezeagu(m): 5:44pm On Aug 01, 2012
Another shrine, this time from Nkarahia, Rivers State. The walls in set with china plates.



"Chi shrine at Nkharahia.

Chi is the feminine divine energy of the universe, to put it succinctly.

At ‘Nkharahia and the surrounding country the most elaborateC hi shrines,a s yet met with,a re to be found. These consist of a room the walls of which, both outside and in, are covered by gaywoloured plates fixed in the clay, or decor-ated with elaborate patterns formed of cowries. An altar-like ridge along the rear wall supports the sacred emblems, while mud seats, smoothed to a pottery-like finish, bear offerings of china, glass, manillas, and food.

Among Etche- and Northern Ikwerri-Ibos, a man’s Chi is representedb y three sticks, the central one half as high again as those to right and left, and a woman’s by four wooden fragments fixed in the clay filling of a small earthen bowl. To this emblem of their “personal god” every Ibo man, or woman, kills goat or fowl, at the time of the yam festival. The offering is avowedly made in thanksgiving for harvest and to entreat help and protection during the coming year. A Kalabari Chief of great intelligence, Gabriel Amakiri Yellow of Bakana, thus expressed the general idea:

“Each personal Chi has an individuality of its own; but is yet a part of, and always in communion with, the Chi of all the world, from whom it can never be separated.” 0f the many natives questioned all asserted further: “Ancestors help Chi to look after men; but are not the same as the Chi, who can never be a dead person, but is always part of the universal Chi.”
— P. Amaury Talbot"

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