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Indigenous African Architecture South Of The Sahara. . . - Culture - Nairaland

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Indigenous African Architecture South Of The Sahara. . . by PhysicsQED(m): 12:29am On Feb 03, 2012
So a few weeks ago I came across some images of Ashanti architecture that counter some of the prevalent stereotypes about what kinds of buildings Africans were capable of building and I decided to start a thread devoted exclusively to non-European and non-Islamic African buildings from different parts of africa.

A few of the visitors to the Akan (Ashanti) city of Kumasi were competent enough to sketch and photoraph some of what they saw in the city in detail, unlike most of the visitors to some other places in Africa, who were completely disinterested in doing such (although a few of them did write impressive descriptions of the places they visited) so I'll start with those images first.

So far I have images of:

Akan architecture - a lot of different drawings and photographs
Benin architecture - a few pictures of some buildings and floors and a few drawings
Yoruba architecture - a few images of paved floors, courtyards and a picture of the top of a tomb
Shona architecture - several images of different stone walled settlements (not just Great Zimbabwe; they built many of these kinds of structures)

There are also descriptions of various places in Africa that I plan to post later on as I get more time. So this thread will include both historical descriptions of buildings and places in Africa and images of some places in Africa.

By now, most people on this forum are already aware of a few of the images of the extraordinary artwork from West Africa, and some of the best books on that art that I can recommend are the following:

Igbo-Ukwu: an account of archaeological discoveries in eastern Nigeria by Thurstan Shaw

The Nok Culture: Art in Nigeria 2500 Years Ago by Gert Chesi and Gerhard Merzeder

Nok terracottas by Bernard Fagg

The birth of art in Africa: Nok statuary in Nigeria by Bernard de Grunne

Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria by Henry John Drewal

Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought by Henry John Drewal, John Pemberton, Rowland Abiodun, and Allen Wardwell

Ife in the History of West African Sculpture by Frank Willett

Benin: Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria by Barbara Plakensteiner

Royal Art of Benin: The Perls Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Kate Ezra

Benin: Royal Art of Africa from the Museum Fur Volkerkunde, Vienna by Armand Duchâteau

The Art of Benin by Nigel Barley

Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley by Marla C. Berns, Richard Fardon and Sidney Littlefield Kasfir

Treasures of Ancient Nigeria by Ekpo Eyo and Frank Willett

Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures by Alisa LaGamma

African Gold by Timothy F. Garrard

Gold of the Akan from the Glassell Collection by Doran H. Ross and Frances Marzio

Ashanti Gold by Edward S. Ayensu

African Art: An Introduction by Frank Willett

However, much less known to most people are the descriptions and images of non-Islamic and non-European architecture from Africa, some of which I hope to compile on this thread.

For the record, I'm well aware that huts are every bit a component of African architecture as any other buildings, but since virtually every group of people in the world had huts, they aren't interesting to me as an example of uniquely African buildings, so their exclusion from this thread isn't really about elitism.
Re: Indigenous African Architecture South Of The Sahara. . . by PhysicsQED(m): 12:44am On Feb 03, 2012

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Re: Indigenous African Architecture South Of The Sahara. . . by tpia5: 1:54am On Feb 03, 2012
that is portuguese architecture.

not sure why or how you consider it indigenous.

btw i think people should have moved past this kind of thing by now.

but knock yourselves out.
Re: Indigenous African Architecture South Of The Sahara. . . by PhysicsQED(m): 3:09am On Feb 03, 2012

I kind of have moved past the issue personally, but it would help to have these images collated in just one thread for others to see who might not have seen everything you or I might have seen. Also, other contributors might post images that neither of us has seen. I consider this thread as more of a holding thread for images people may have seen of building styles besides just those found in Nigeria.

As for the Akan architecture, since you've seen actual Portuguese architecture. . .

Does Portuguese architecture really look like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imknowmadic2/3278214284/in/set-72157601506642446

or this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imknowmadic2/3237775930/in/set-72157601506642446

or this?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imknowmadic2/3278214308/in/set-72157601506642446

The pictures of Akan architecture that I linked to show actual Akan architecture in addition to the modern European stuff mixed with it. The Portuguese architecture that you're thinking of is maybe the stone palace formerly at Kumasi or the modern pictures in those albums. I should have been clearer. I only plan to post the earlier pre-colonial pictures, such as those drawn by Bowdich and others, and the few modern examples that correspond faithfully to those pictures in appearance, not every picture in that flickr album, since not all of those pictures would fit the premise of the thread. I should have been clearer about what I meant by Ashanti architecture. I'm not considering something like this:


for posting, since it's not completely faithful to their original building style.

And I'm obviously not going to post an image like this in the thread: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imknowmadic2/1151661427/in/set-72157601506642446

But definitely other images like this would be posted through the first part of this thread: http://www.flickr.com/photos/imknowmadic2/2653882260/in/set-72157601513839399/

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Re: Indigenous African Architecture South Of The Sahara. . . by PhysicsQED(m): 1:40am On Jul 30, 2012
lol, what was ezeagu's hidden post about?

Anyway, I abandoned this old thread because the opening post was misguided. I actually meant to erase my posts in this thread, but never got around to it because I went to other threads in nairaland to look at other things every time I decided to open nairaland. The problem with the opening post is that it presumes that there was necessarily an overriding Islamic/North African element to all Sahelian architecture and so therefore all architecture of places that adopted Islam en masse should all be ignored automatically as non-indigenous. In fact, there was some Islamic influence in different places, but much of it was indigenous adaptation of city dwelling or urbanized groups to their materials and Sahelian environment. The great ancient city walls of Kano, for example, were indigenous West African Sahelian architecture, not fundamentally North African or Islamic and trying to dismiss them out hand or ignore them as Arab or North African would be a distortion.

Presumably there may have been some Sahelian connections in Ashanti architecture as well as one book on African architecture that I came across a while back went into that idea in detail.

The other reason I abandoned this thread is because I realized that it was probably better for people to create and have individual threads for the buildings of different places that go into detail about those groups and their buildings. I will post one image of ruins of buildings from the old kingdom of Dahomey that I found interesting though:

"Dahomey (Modern Benin) - Ruins of Royal Apartments"

It kind of makes you wonder what the "royal apartments" there might have looked like in earlier times.

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Re: Indigenous African Architecture South Of The Sahara. . . by ezeagu(m): 10:29pm On Dec 13, 2012
Ashanti hall of justice, after Anglo-Ashanti wars, after 1901.

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