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Earthen Architecture of Africa: Of Buildings and Belief

Evening Program

Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1H0411
Great Mud Mosque, Djenné, Mali (Photo: Ruud Zwart)

Extraordinary variety and unexpected beauty are the trademarks of the unique architecture found in desert environments. Across the African continent, for centuries men and women have built monumental and aesthetically innovative structures from mud and earthen material. Examples range from roofs with life-sized mud-sculpted sentinels standing guard to columns carved into fine relief. In large kingdoms and small-scale societies, these buildings were used not just as dwellings or gathering spaces, but as ways to communicate fundamental social, cultural, and religious beliefs.

Kevin Tervala, associate curator of African art at the Baltimore Museum of Art, explores how many African countries used buildings to express identity. He also examines how the introduction of Islam in the 7th century restructured the social and architectural fabric of western African societies and cultures, influencing the design of earthen architecture.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)