Thursday, February 1, 2007

Djenne and Djenne jenno


The city of Djenne is known first and foremost for its magnificent mud mosque, built in 1906 on the site of several more ancient mosques dating back to the thirteen century. It's hard to communicate the experience of standing in front of this building - its sheer size coupled with the otherworldliness of its aesthetics...

Only a few kilometers away is the Djenne Jenno - Old Djenne. It's the original site of the city, abandoned when the town moved to its current site in the early thirteenth century. In the 1990's there was an active dig here, but work stopped in 1999. The site is remarkable - it is absolutely covered in potshards.

Here's a photo of Sarah taking a photo of one ...

We spent a couple hours wandering around, and could have stayed longer. But we were accompanied by the director of the little archeology museum on the site, who wanted to get back. I have a hunch he was along primarily to make sure we did not remove any artifacts.

Here is a fragment of a black pot with elaborate desgins etched into the surface...

Further along we came upon the ruins of the cemetery. Burial was in large urns, in foetal position. I was startled to see the occupant of this one so plainly visible. At first I thought it rude to photograph him-or-her, but then seeing how he was tucked in so cosy and sleeping comfortably all these hundreds of years, I took a photo anyhow.


But let's not leave Djenne on a note of death. It's a very lively town. We spent new years eve there - Doria and I downed quite a few Grand Castels, the Malian beer in the the big, big bottle. On New Year's day Sarah took this shot, which shows how the life of the town goes on not indoors, but on its rooftops and in its courtyards.

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