With its interesting façade and distinctive architectural style, the Djenné Mosque ranks among the many uncommon and exquisite buildings on the planet. This massive, mud-brick construction is typical of the particular African-Islamic “marriage” discovered on the continent, during which African societies have molded Islam to suit their very own traditional beliefs and values.
Djenne’s first mosque was constructed in 1280 by Koi Konboro, the king of Djenne, following his conversion to Islam. As an illustration of his allegiance to his new religion, the king had his royal palace knocked down and the mosque constructed on its place. In the nineteenth century the fundamentalist Islamic king, Cheikou Amadou, allowed it to fall into disrepair. The French administration later organized for the unique mosque to be rebuilt into the mudbrick construction seen in the present day.
The Djenne Mosque is made with sun-baked mud, which, in the expert fingers of the Mali mastermasons, has resulted in one of the exceptional expressions of religion in Africa. Because of its thick walls and towers, and the peculiar “spiked” look of the wooden palm beams, the mosque appears to be like a fortress rather than a religious object. The exterior is made up of three sloping minarets (33 ft – 10 m), some towers, and a big base, accessible through numerous stepped entrances. Non-Muslims are not allowed inside, but the interior can be viewed from the roofs of houses neraby. The artwork and skils of the masons have been handed down from fathers to their sons. The mastermasons combine the mud mortar by foot, and form the mud bricks by hand – an easy iron trowel is their only instrument.
Based in 1250 on one of many historical transsaharan trade routes, Djenne rapidly grew right into a center of commerce, attracting merchandisers from throughout Africa. Textiles, brass, ceramics, and copperware had been exchanged for Sahel gold, ivory, and valuable Saharan salt. Muslim merchants from North Africa also brought Islam to Djenne and the town developed into an essential center of Islamic studying.