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Folklife Festival 2003 > Mali > Architecture Traditions
architecture traditions
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.

Coming to the Festival...
Baba Cissé, architect
Boubacar Mady Diallo, architect
Halimatou Abouba, Sohrai house
Alassane Hasseye, mason
Boubacar Kouroumanse, mason
Manhamane dit Berre Younou, mason
Alhousseini Ag Tajoudine, Tuareg tent
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