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Great Mosque of Djenné (1907)

Great Mosque of Djenné (1907)

The mosque, built in a distinctive architectural style, is the largest adobe structure in the world.

Visual Arts

Keywords

Djenné, mosque, Africa, Muslim, Islam, Mali, minaret, church, architecture, building, mud, adobe brick, prayer, UNESCO, West Africa, qibla wall, platform, palm tree, Bani River, UNESCO world heritage, ostrich egg, Great Mosque, religious buildings, 20th century, religion, old town, edifice

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Scenes

Great Mosque of Djenné

  • Djenné - One of the most ancient towns of Mali. It has been inhabited probably since 250 BC. It is an important archaeological site.
  • Bani River - This 1,100 km long river is the main tributary of the Niger River in Mali. It reaches its maximum flow and covers the floodplain in September.
  • Great Mosque - The mosque in Djenné, Mali is probably the largest adobe building in the world.
  • platform - The mosque stands on a platform surrounded by walls. The platform is raised 3 m above the level of the marketplace and it serves to protect the building from the flooding of the Bani River. It is about 75 m wide and 75 m long and its floor plan is not a regular square but rather a trapezium.

Top view

  • stairs - The platform can be accessed by six sets of stairs. The main entrance is located on the northern side.
  • yard
  • mosque building - The prayer hall of the Great Mosque of Djenné is about 26 m long and 50 m wide.
  • walls surrounding the mosque
  • tomb
  • platform - The mosque stands on a platform surrounded by walls. The platform is raised 3 m above the level of the marketplace and it serves to protect the building from the flooding of the Bani River. It is about 75 m wide and 75 m long and its floor plan is not a regular square but rather a trapezium.
  • marketplace
  • tomb of Almany Ismaïla - There are two tombs in front of the eastern wall. The larger one is the tomb of Almany Ismaila, an important 18th-century imam.
  • qibla wall - It indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca towards which all Muslims must turn when praying. Mosques are built in a way that Muslims facing the qibla wall inside the building will always pray in the right direction.

Main entrance

Qibla wall

  • qibla wall - It indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca towards which all Muslims must turn when praying. Mosques are built in a way that Muslims facing the qibla wall inside the building will always pray in the right direction.
  • minarets - There are three box-like towers jutting out from the qibla wall on the eastern side of the mosque. The middle one is 16 m tall.
  • buttresses - The eastern wall is about 1 m thick and is supported by 18 buttresses that have conical tops.

Minaret

  • qibla wall - It indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca towards which all Muslims must turn when praying. Mosques are built in a way that Muslims facing the qibla wall inside the building will always pray in the right direction.
  • ostrich egg - The top of the three minarets and the two corner towers of the eastern wall are decorated with an ostrich egg on each. In Mali, the ostrich egg symbolises fertility and purity.
  • spire - The minarets and the buttresses have conical spires on top.
  • tower - There are three minarets on the eastern wall.

Platform

  • stairs - The platform can be accessed by six sets of stairs. The main entrance is located on the northern side.
  • walls surrounding the mosque
  • platform - The mosque stands on a platform surrounded by walls. The platform is raised 3 m above the level of the marketplace and it serves to protect the building from the flooding of the Bani River. It is about 75 m wide and 75 m long and its floor plan is not a regular square but rather a trapezium.
  • qibla wall - It indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca towards which all Muslims must turn when praying. Mosques are built in a way that Muslims facing the qibla wall inside the building will always pray in the right direction.
  • minarets - There are three box-like towers jutting out from the qibla wall on the eastern side of the mosque. The middle one is 16 m tall.

Walls

  • buttresses - The eastern wall is about 1 m thick and is supported by 18 buttresses that have conical tops.
  • gutters - These open ceramic troughs direct rainwater away from the roof. They play an important role in protecting the structure of the mosque.
  • bundles of palm sticks - Bundles of African fan palm (Borassus aethiopum) sticks project about 60 cm from the wall. They serve primarily as decoration but are also used as scaffolding during the annual repair work.
  • window

Walk

Animation

  • Djenné - One of the most ancient towns of Mali. It has been inhabited probably since 250 BC. It is an important archaeological site.
  • Bani River - This 1,100 km long river is the main tributary of the Niger River in Mali. It reaches its maximum flow and covers the floodplain in September.
  • Great Mosque - The mosque in Djenné, Mali is probably the largest adobe building in the world.
  • stairs - The platform can be accessed by six sets of stairs. The main entrance is located on the northern side.
  • walls surrounding the mosque
  • platform - The mosque stands on a platform surrounded by walls. The platform is raised 3 m above the level of the marketplace and it serves to protect the building from the flooding of the Bani River. It is about 75 m wide and 75 m long and its floor plan is not a regular square but rather a trapezium.
  • qibla wall - It indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca towards which all Muslims must turn when praying. Mosques are built in a way that Muslims facing the qibla wall inside the building will always pray in the right direction.
  • minarets - There are three box-like towers jutting out from the qibla wall on the eastern side of the mosque. The middle one is 16 m tall.
  • ostrich egg - The top of the three minarets and the two corner towers of the eastern wall are decorated with an ostrich egg on each. In Mali, the ostrich egg symbolises fertility and purity.
  • spire - The minarets and the buttresses have conical spires on top.
  • buttresses - The eastern wall is about 1 m thick and is supported by 18 buttresses that have conical tops.
  • brick - The mosque was built of banco, a type of sun-dried adobe brick made of mud and grain husk.
  • mortar - The binding agent of bricks from which walls are made. In the case of the Great Mosque of Djenné, it comprises sand and earth.

Narration

The city of Djenné is located in Mali, Africa, on the floodplain of the Bani River. The most notable building in the city is the Great Mosque.

The first mosque in Djenné was probably built in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the first half of the 19th century, the building was neglected and nearly fell into complete ruin. After the city was captured by the French in 1893, the great mosque was rebuilt. It has been standing in its present form in the heart of the old town since 1907.

The mosque, constructed in a special architectural style that is characteristic of West Africa, is the largest adobe structure in the world. It was built on a platform which is raised 3 m above the level of its surroundings.

The mosque is made of banco, a type of adobe brick, and mortar. The walls are plastered and decorated with bundles of palm sticks projecting out, lending the exterior its unique character. They serve primarily as decoration but are also used as scaffolding during the annual repair work.

Although the main entrance to the mosque is at the northern wall, the eastern wall is of greater importance. This is the qibla wall, which indicates the direction of Mecca, towards which all Muslims must turn during prayer.

This wall is about 1 m thick and is strengthened by buttresses. The towers at the corners and the three minarets jutting out from the wall are topped by spires, with ostrich eggs atop each. These symbolise fertility and purity in Malian mythology. The mosque and the old town of Djenné became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

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