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tv   Treasures of the World - Djenne - City of Clay Mali  Deutsche Welle  December 28, 2017 11:15am-11:31am CET

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keep. in the rainy season the river floods and jenny is left stranded an island in a vast expanse of water. all roads lead to jenny people will tell you in mali merchants their customers and pilgrims all make the journey here this ancient trading center in the heart of the country is famous for its market and for its mosque.
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visitors in earlier times described as large prosperous and happy of center for trade and crafts the most beautiful town in the sahara god from his heaven must surely have smiled on jenny which remains to this day a jewel of the niger valley. human settlement here dates back to before the time of christ at one time the area was home to the bosun people who fished the rivers and grew grain crops on the banks in the ninth century the settlement grew into a town under the influence of the normal who were sharp witted traders.
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it was the nano who moved jenny to its present site founding the new town on the hill where the niger flows around it they abandoned the old town jenny jenner its position left it unprotected from flooding in the end the rainy season. to win the favor of the gods for the new town a young girl named top pama was sacrificed simply walled in and left to die before the town's conversion to islam such sacrifices were made to ensure its prosperity and protect its inhabitants.
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building is still done in the traditional way the materials are the same and the methods have hardly changed as there is no local stone clay is mixed together with cow dung and finally cut straw to make bricks the mortar between them is also made of clay or mud clays cheap it's practical and it's available everywhere in large quantities add a little water to the earth beneath your feet and you can start building the sun takes care of the rest. and.
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jenny owes its success in trade to its excellent location on the niger goods of all kinds were traded here from early on but the biggest profits of all were made from the trade in gold brought from the west african mines it was highly valued far beyond the sahara. going. to. be. the. way to to go.
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in the thirteenth century the followers of the prophet mohammed reached jenny as they spread out over the world the townspeople had their own animist religions and felt no need of the new faith but when jennie's chief accepted the koran and converted to islam most of the town followed him others chose to flee to the hills where the dogon people lived and the. islam has left its mark on the town's architecture as well as its culture according to the koran a woman must never show herself uncovered to any man outside her family that's why these windows are covered over so women can watch the goings on in streets and squares without themselves being seen. when coombe auro of genii converted to islam he gave his palace to the faithful is a place of worship the present mosque only dates back to one thousand nine hundred nine but it was closely modeled on the old one and built on the same site it's
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widely recognised as the finest and biggest clay building in the sahara zone the mosques design emphasizes its vertical lines and this makes it seem much taller than it really is it's not small anyway with room for three thousand worshippers behind it's massive the sod of over one hundred fifty metres across. the mosque rises up like a stronghold of the faith it's solid minaret and battlements make it look more like a fortress than a house of prayer. wooden beams stick out of the clay walls at intervals they are very decorative but that's not the aim it's not african art being used to beautifying adorn the bare walls the beam. have
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a thoroughly practical purpose. every time the rain comes drumming down onto the clay walls the building suffer a lot of damage as long as it's dry the sun bakes the clay hard in the walls are strong but in the rainy season the clay gets softened and washes away the workers who have to repair the damage use these beams like the rungs of a ladder to climb up the walls the use of beams is typical of the mud or dhobi architecture of the region each house has its own built in scaffolding for the repairs everyone knows will be needed later.
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education in jenny is mostly provided in the koran schools on most street corners you can see a wise man with fifteen or twenty boys crowded around him and he's teaching them to read and write using the surahs of the koran in this way the strong principles of the islamic faith are anchored in the population from a very early age. all
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the streets of genii eventually lead to the mosque even the roads used by the merchants and their customers the big market the one jenny is famous for is spread out right at the feet of the mosque everything grown or produced here everything you need to live here in fact anything at all which can be sold is for sale at the market. from salted fish to music and sets from lottery articles to the necessities of life buyers and sellers come from far afield the markets also a place for people to meet and exchange nudes to see and be seen it's here people make new contacts and by no means all mean business ones.
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the town's openness to the world in its different cultures is perhaps explained by its own checkered history over the centuries a succession of foreign rulers came and went in jenny and they all left the town with something of their culture and identity the town took it all in made it its own and built on it and you can see the various influences to this day no matter who was ruling over jenae it was always first and foremost a market town a place where goods and opinions could be exchanged a center for business politics and art. jenny really was and is the jewel in the crown of the niger valley.
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