Worship places all over the world, whether its churches, synagogues, mosques or temples, have provided the architects an opportunity to build buildings that can be considered as a wonder. There are examples of very incredible sacred architecture that begins from imposing cathedrals of Italy to the colorful temples of India. Every country and religion of the world plays a role in creating beautiful structures around the world.
Islam was introduced in West Africa in the 9th century by the traders who went there. Most of West Africa is now the follower of Islam. Mosques are the places of worship for Muslims and are found all over the world. The structures present in West Africa are usually mosques. They range from a large white building to roofless mud enclosures. They are built from local materials and designed in a unique manner which fuses the Islamic architecture with a touch of local aesthetics and building style.
Each mud brick mosque is different according to its location and builder, However, more or less they follow the same design of having a roof, a tower, and a courtyard. The interior of the mosque is made up of the sand floor and covered in prayer mats. These buildings are lit by the light that comes from small windows in the ceilings. The interior of the mosque is kept simple so that worshipers don’t get distracted.
The most famous among these mud mosques is the Great Mosque of Djenne in Mali. The huge mosque has been standing in its current form for almost 100 years. However, the original structure of the mosque which was present on the same location dates back to 13th century. The original mosque was damaged over the years of use and later on, was used as a graveyard rather than a mosque.
After Djenne was captured by the French, they decided to rebuild the mosque. People also argue that the mosque has some French features because they built it. The mosque is present on a large mud platform. It lifts the building ten feet higher than the ground. It is an unusual building of sandy yellow mud and is dotted all over with the timber supports.
Felix Dubois, a French journalist, when the saw the mosque for the first time after it completed was horrified by its design. He said, “it looked like a cross between a hedgehog and a church organ.” Another American art historian, Jean-Louis Bourgeois said that the mosque is uniquely African and the French influence on the building design is downplayed. The mosque is in use today but non-muslims are not allowed to go inside. They can visit the mosque from the outside. The restriction was applied in 1996 when Vogue completed a fashion shoot inside the mosque which caused a huge outrage among the local Muslims.
It’s sure fits as a modern day marvel!