|Architecture is an important part
of Mali's rich material heritage. Its forms are very diverse, corresponding
to the environment and the varied needs of those who build and use
the structures, but there are essentially three building traditions:
earthen, stone, and nomadic.
Houses and religious structures made from adobe bricks, wood, and
other vegetal materials are widespread in both urban and rural areas
in Mali. Examples of this architecture in cities are Djenné's
famous mosque-the largest adobe building in the world-and its decorated
houses, as well as the mausoleums and medieval mosques of Timbuktu
(Tombouctou). Rural adobe architecture is remarkable for its impressive
earthen shrines, mosques, and houses. This style of earthen architecture,
called the Western Sudanic style, was copied by French colonial builders
for official government buildings in Mali, and many of these buildings
are still in use today. The Western Sudanic style has become part
of a Malian national architectural vocabulary. New buildings like
the National Museum of Mali--built in 1980 and expanded in 2003--as
well as monuments like the Independence Monument, built in the mid-1990s,
look to Mali's vernacular adobe architecture for their inspiration.
Stonemasonry is practiced in the Dogon country, and its architectural
forms mix stone, clay, and wood for houses, shrines, and walled
enclosures. In Dogon men's lodges (toguna), carved wooden or stone
pillars are placed in a regular, square arrangement. The pillars
support a bed of tree trunks, on which millet stalks are stacked
in crosswise levels.
Nomadic architecture is based on flexible wooden frameworks covered
with mats or tents that are then covered with hides or fabric. These
structures reflect the lifestyle of people on the move. Tuareg,
Moors (Maures), Sonraï, and Fulani (Peul) herders all travel
seasonally to new pastures, taking their houses with them as they
settle in new places.