Educational Activities Introduction

Table of contents

Saramanka Cassava Cakes

Design a Ndjuka
-Style House Front


        To introduce students to the Ndjuka Maroon tradition of decorating their houses and to explore and experiment with Ndjuka decorative motifs and designs.


        To decorate their houses, the Ndjuka Maroons who live in the rainforests of French Guiana paint the entire facade or front of their houses like a work of art. The house is made of wood and the roof is thatched with palm leaves. The roof extends beyond the side of the house to provide a shady porch area. Inside the house, the space is divided into a sleeping area in the back and a parlor in the front. A hammock or double bed occupies the back space. The front room is used for visiting, group meals, and storage, and to display personal wealth. It may have furniture like a table, carved stool, folding chairs, and trunks containing cloth. A man's house may have a hunting gun, bow and arrows, a flashlight, umbrella, hats, photographs, assortment of machetes, a calendar, tape recorder, and cassettes. A woman's house may contain some of the same items as well as an artfully arranged assortment of dishes, pots, pans, silverware, and carved woodwork.

Activity 1- Discover Ndjuka Design Motifs

        A motif is a single design element. Here are samples of Ndjuka design motifs. Notice the many ways you can fill in a circle. A different form of one motif is called a variation.

Activity 2- Design your own Maroon house front

Materials - pencil, paper, eraser, ruler, triangle, compass and colored pencils or crayons (red, white, black, green, yellow, pink, orange).

  • Practice drawing each motif in the space next to it or on an extra sheet of paper.

  • Create your own design motifs using angles or curves.

  • Choosing from the motifs above or from your own, design your Ndjuka house front using the provided house front sketch. You can combine the motifs in any way you like.

  • "Paint" your house front with colored pencils or crayons.


Ndjuka House Blueprint- Click the picture to enlarge it