The Masons of Djenne

The Masons of Djenne

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The town of Djenne on the Bani River in Mali has been a thriving settlement for more than two millennia. Renowned for its mud-brick architecture, monumental mosque, and merchant-traders' houses, Djenne remains one of Africa's most distinctive cities. The Masons of Djenne follows Trevor Marchand after he signs on as a builder's apprentice. Marchand takes readers on his journey from raw laborer to skilled craftsman. He explores the professional associations of masons, their social networks, training regimes, and changing fortunes. With his fellow builders, he produces mud bricks and plasters, constructs walls and ceilings, and sculpts rooftop crenellations using specialized tools. Marchand describes the raising of a mud-brick house and explores the technical, social, and magical processes involved in making buildings and renewing the unique urban environment of Djenne.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 376 pages
  • 154.94 x 233.68 x 25.4mm | 635.03g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 60 b&w photos, 13 figures, 2 maps
  • 0253220726
  • 9780253220721
  • 932,367

Review quote

The author provides a fascinating close-up view of indvidual decision-making processes, as well as a step-by-step description of the various building stages. Vol. 70.1, 2011 * Western Folklore * It is a tribute to his skills as an author that the text is not only informative in a scholarly sense but also immensely enjoyable to read. . . . With this book Marchand has produced a valuable contribution to anthropology and architectural history. The material is thought provoking, accessible, and a joy to read. * Buildings & Landscapes * Because of its breadth, this book is a valuable resource to architects, anthropologists, conservationists, development experts, and cultural tourists interested in Mali's architecture and society.Vol. 11.2-3 Spring 2010 -- Kathleen Louw * University of California Los Angeles * ... an important contribution to the increasing interest in the study of earthen architecture and the people who inhabit them ... The complex and vast number of topics [the author] attempts to distill ... are worthy of a dissertation in and of themselves, but [the author] synthesizes them lucidly.Spring-Fall 2011 * Museum Anthropology Review * One reads the The Masons of Djenne . . . as instantiating the qualitities of careful but sure-footed construction and artistry that its author seeks to describe in this vivid portrayal of a community of Mailian masons.August 2010 * Africa * Here is a book that puts the work back into fieldwork with the dirt left under the fingernails. to learn about construction processes, Trevor Marchand apprenticed himself to the masons in Djenne exchanging his labor for learning. . . . Over and above the book's considerable substantive and theoretical strengths, the unusually accessible exposition of this intercultural dynamic will make it well worth teaching.Vol.53.1 April 2010 -- Allen F. Roberts * UCLA *
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About Professor Trevor H. J. Marchand

Trevor H. J. Marchand is Professor of Social Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is author of Minaret Building and Apprenticeship in Yemen.
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Table of contents

ContentsAcknowledgmentsA Note on LanguageIntroduction: The Field and the WorkPart 1. Elementary Lessons in the Art of Building 1. Back to Work 2. Staking a Claim 3. Magic and Mortar 4. Conflict and ResolutionPart 2. Portraits of Life and Work in Djenne 5. Master and Apprentice 6. The Michelangelo of Djenne 7. Vulnerable Craftsmen 8. Cat Heads and Mud Miters 9. Yappi's Confession 10. Finishing OffEpilogue: Continuity and ChangeGlossaryNotesBibliographyIndex
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