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Sudanese style mosques in northern Côte d’Ivoire

Sudanese style mosques in northern Côte d’Ivoire

The eight Sudanese-style mosques located in Tengréla, Kouto, Sorobango, Samatiguila, Nambira, Kong, and Kaouara are characterized by earthen construction, projecting frameworks, vertical buttresses crowned with pottery or ostrich eggs, and high or low minarets in the form of a truncated pyramid. They present an interpretation of an architectural style that originated between the 12th and 14th centuries in the city of Djenné, which was then part of the Mali Empire and whose prosperity came from the trade of gold and salt across the Sahara to North Africa. It is especially from the 15th century that this style spread southwards, from the desert regions to the Sudanese savannah, adopting lower forms with stronger buttresses, to meet the requirements of a more humid climate. These mosques are the best preserved of the twenty that have survived in Côte d'Ivoire, out of several hundred that still existed at the beginning of the 20th century. The Sudanese style that characterizes these mosques, and which is unique to the savannah region of West Africa, developed between the eleventh and nineteenth centuries, when Islamic merchants and scholars spread southward from the Mali Empire, extending the trans-Saharan trade routes into the woodlands. The mosques are not only very important physical evidence of the trans-Saharan trade that fostered the expansion of Islam and Islamic culture, but are also a tangible expression of the fusion of two architectural forms that have endured over time: the Islamic form practiced by the Arab-Berbers and that of the indigenous animist communities.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Mosquées de style soudanais du Nord ivoirien

Les huit mosquées de style soudanais situées dans les localités de Tengréla, Kouto, Sorobango, Samatiguila, Nambira, Kong et Kaouara sont caractérisées par une construction en terre, des charpentes en saillie, des contreforts verticaux couronnés de poteries ou d’œufs d’Autruche, et par des minarets élevés ou moins importants à la forme d’une pyramide tronquée. Elles présentent une interprétation d’un style architectural dont l’origine se situerait entre les XIIe et XIVe siècles dans la ville de Djenné, qui faisait alors partie de l’empire du Mali et dont la prospérité provenait du commerce de l’or et du sel, à travers le Sahara vers l’Afrique du Nord. C’est surtout à partir du XVe siècle que ce style s’est répandu vers le Sud, des régions désertiques à la savane soudanaise, en adoptant des formes plus basses avec des contreforts plus solides, pour répondre aux exigences d’un climat plus humide. Ces mosquées sont les mieux conservées sur les vingt qui ont subsisté en Côte d’Ivoire, sur plusieurs centaines qui existaient encore au début du XXe siècle. Le style soudanais qui caractérise ces mosquées et qui est propre à la région de la savane de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, s’est développé entre les XIe et XIXe siècles, lorsque les marchands et les érudits de l’islam se sont dispersés vers le Sud à partir de l’empire du Mali, prolongeant les routes commerciales transsahariennes jusque dans la zone boisée. Les mosquées constituent non seulement des témoins matériels très importants du commerce transsaharien qui favorisa l’expansion de l’islam et de la culture islamique, mais aussi sont l’expression tangible de la fusion des de deux formes architecturales qui ont duré dans le temps : celle islamique pratiquée par les arabo-berbères et celle des communautés autochtones animistes.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

جوامع ذات طراز معماري سوداني في شمال كوت ديفوار

تتميّز الجوامع الثمانية الصغيرة المبنيّة من الطوب في تنغريلا وكوتو وسوروبانجو وساماتيغيلا ومبنغوي وكونغ وكاوارا، بما تكتنزه من إطارات خشبية بارزة، ودعامات عمودية يعلوها الفخار أو بيض النعام، ومآذن مستدقة الأطراف. وتُجسّد هذه المساجد طرازاً معمارياً يُعتقد أنّه نشأ في القرن الرابع عشر، وتحديداً في مدينة جينيه التي كانت آنذاك جزءاً من إمبراطورية مالي، والتي ذاقت طعم الازدهار بفضل قوافل تجّار الذهب والملح العابرين الذين اعتادوا عبور الصحراء متجهين نحو شمال أفريقيا. وسرعان ما انتشر هذا الطراز المعماري جنوباً، امتداداً من المناطق الصحراوية ووصولاً إلى منطقة السافانا السودانية، وذلك اعتباراً من القرن السادس عشر بالتحديد. وأضحى يعتمد استخدام هياكل أقل ارتفاعاً ودعامات أكثر سمكاً وصلابةً كي تصمد في وجه المناخ الأكثر رطوبة في تلك المناطق. وتُعتبر هذه المساجد من الصروح التي حوفظ عليها على أفضل وجه من بين الصروح العشرين الأخرى في كوت ديفوار بعد أن كان عددها بالمئات في مطلع القرن الماضي. وتبلور الطراز السوداني المميّز للمساجد، الخاص بمنطقة السافانا غرب أفريقيا، بين القرنَين السابع عشر والتاسع عشر بفعل موجات التجار والعُلماء المتجهين جنوباً من إمبراطورية مالي. أسفرت هذه الموجات عن تمديد الطرق التجارية العابرة للصحراء نحو المناطق الحرجية. وتقف شاهداً بالغ الأهمية على التجارة العابرة للصحراء والتي يسّرت انتشار الإسلام والثقافة الإسلامية، فضلاً عن كونها تُجسّد التداخل والاندماج بين أشكال العمارة الإسلامية والمحليّة في طراز مميز لم تشبه شائبة مع مرور الزمن.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

科特迪瓦北部的苏丹式清真寺

这8座小型土坯清真寺分别位于腾格雷拉省、库托省、索罗邦戈省、萨马蒂吉拉省、姆本格省、孔格省和卡瓦拉省。这些清真寺的特点包括外突的木杆,顶部带有陶器或鸵鸟蛋装饰的垂直扶壁,以及锥形宣礼塔。它们展示了一种特有的建筑风格,据信该风格起源于14世纪前后马里帝国的杰内城(Djenné),该国因与北非的跨撒哈拉沙漠的盐与黄金贸易而兴盛。尤其自16世纪以来,这种风格从沙漠地区向南传播到苏丹大草原。为了适应当地更潮湿的气候,建筑高度降低,并出现了更坚固的支撑。上世纪初科特迪瓦有数百座类似风格的清真寺,仅有20座留存至今,遗产地由其中保存最为完好的8座组成。这些清真寺具有独特的苏丹风格,为西非萨瓦纳地区所特有。伴随着商人和学者从马里帝国向南扩散,将跨撒哈拉的商贸路线延伸到了森林地区,这种风格在17-19世纪间发展起来。它们是促进了伊斯兰教和伊斯兰文化发展的跨撒哈拉贸易的重要见证,体现了伊斯兰建筑和当地建筑形式的融合,其风格极为独特,经久不衰。

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Мечети в суданском стиле на севере Кот-д'Ивуара

Восемь небольших глинобитных мечетей в городах Тингрела, Куто, Соробанго, Саматигила, М'Бенге, Конг и Кауара характеризуются выступающими деревянными балками, вертикальными контрфорсами, увенчанными предметами керамики или страусиными яйцами, а также сужающимися минаретами. Они представляют собой интерпретацию архитектурного стиля, возникшего примерно в XIV веке в городе Дженне, который тогда входил в состав Малийской империи и процветал благодаря торговле золотом и солью с Северной Африкой через Сахару. В частности, с XVI века стиль распространился на юг из пустынных регионов в суданскую саванну, в то время как постройки становились ниже, с более широкими контрфорсами, в связи с более влажным климатом. Мечети являются лучше всего сохранившимися из 20 подобных построек в Кот-д’Ивуаре, где в начале прошлого века существовали сотни подобных зданий. Отличительный суданский стиль мечетей, характерный для региона саванн в Западной Африке, развился между XVII и XIX веками, когда торговцы и ученые начали расселяться к югу от Малийской империи, расширяя транссахарские торговые маршруты в лесную зону. Они представляют собой весьма важные свидетельства транссахарской торговли, которая способствовала распространению ислама и исламской культуры, и отражают слияние исламских и местных архитектурных форм в весьма своеобразном стиле, сохранившемся с течением времени.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Mezquitas de estilo sudanés en el norte de Côte d’Ivoire

Las ocho pequeñas mezquitas de adobe, situadas en Tengréla, Kouto, Sorobango, Samatiguila, M’Bengué, Kong y Kaouara se caracterizan por sus maderas salientes, sus contrafuertes verticales coronados por cerámica o huevos de avestruz y sus minaretes en forma de huso. Presentan una interpretación de un estilo arquitectónico originado, según se cree, en torno al siglo XIV en la ciudad de Djenné, entonces parte del Imperio de Malí, que prosperó gracias al comercio de oro y sal a través del Sáhara hasta el norte de África. Sobre todo a partir del siglo XVI, el estilo se extendió hacia el sur desde las regiones desérticas hasta la sabana sudanesa, haciéndose más bajo y desarrollando contrafuertes más robustos en respuesta a la humedad del clima. Estas mezquitas son las mejor preservadas de las veinte que se conservan en Côte d’Ivoire, donde existían cientos de ellas a principios del siglo pasado. El estilo sudanés característico de las mezquitas, específico de la región de la sabana de África Occidental, se desarrolló entre los siglos XVII y XIX, cuando los comerciantes y estudiosos se extendieron hacia el sur desde el Imperio de Malí, ampliando las rutas mercantiles transaharianas hacia la zona de la selva. Presentan testimonios muy importantes del comercio transahariano que facilitó la expansión del Islam y de la cultura islámica y reflejan una fusión de formas arquitectónicas islámicas y locales en un estilo muy característico que ha persistido en el tiempo.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Sudanese style mosques in northern Côte d’Ivoire © OIPC
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The eight mosques of Tengréla, Kouto, Sorobango, Samatiguila, Nambria, Kong and Kaouara bear witness to a very particular Sudanese architectural style specific to the savanna region of West Africa. This style is a reflection of an important period of migration, from the south of the Islamic Saharan States to the forest areas, which began in the 14th century and accelerated after the collapse of the Songhai Empire at the end of the 16th century. In search of cola and gold, Mandinka merchants set up halts on the roads leading from the banks of the Niger to Kong, in order to promote and intensify trans-Saharan trade through the development of new towns, the introduction of Islam and the construction of mosques.

The surviving mosques, built mainly between the 17th and 19th centuries, are the result of a mixture between a style developed in Djenné around the 14th century and the local architectural forms and techniques of the Gur and Mandé cultural areas in which they are located. The Sudanese-style mosques of northern Côte d'Ivoire are the work of skilled builders, subtly and harmoniously combining the earth building skills of local communities as well as those of the Mandinka merchants who introduced Islam. These mosques have in common squat and low, tapered/slender, rectangular or square shapes; massive wooden or earth block pilasters, high minarets in the form of a truncated pyramid crowned with small mitres that surmount the roof, as well as ogive-shaped minarets and cone-shaped qibla towers. This form of earthen building has spread widely throughout the Sudanese region.

The mosques are located in villages and towns. They are surrounded by public spaces where people gather, and the verticality of their structure was intended to clearly differentiate them from other buildings and give them visibility in their environment.

Their on-going existence as places of worship testifies not only to their continued use and regular conservation and upkeep, but more importantly to their association with traditional systems of patronage, the involvement of skilled local masons and the support of local communities.

Criterion (ii): The Sudanese-style mosques of northern Côte d'Ivoire are material evidence of an important exchange of influences in the Gur and Mandé cultural areas between the 14th and 18th centuries. Architectural developments conveyed by predominantly Muslim traders, particularly Arab-Berbers and Mandé people from the Niger Delta, merged with local building traditions to produce a style of mosque building that spread from East to West in the savannah areas of West Africa and which has persisted for many centuries.

Criterion (iv): The Sudanese-style mosques of northern Côte d'Ivoire are an outstanding example of a type of architecture that very specifically reflects a major period of migration, south of the Islamic Saharan states to the forest areas, which began in the 14th century and accelerated after the collapse of the Songhai Empire at the end of the 16th century. This led to the development of new trade centres, the introduction of Islam and its spread, of which the building of mosques is one of the major symbols. The style of these mosques reflects a fusion of Islamic and local architectural styles adapted to climatic conditions, and the mosques themselves can be seen as documents relating to an important stage in human history.

Integrity

The series of eight mosques display all the attributes necessary to convey Outstanding Universal Value. These mosques, evolving in their urban and rural environment, have all been preserved in their integrity. With the exception of the Great Mosque of Kong which was destroyed by Samory Touré in 1897 and rebuilt by the communities, the mosques have not suffered major damage despite the fact that in the past a few underwent interventions with inappropriate materials during maintenance work.

It appears necessary to consider the possibility of widening the boundaries of each component part of the property so that they encompass all of the associated communal and functional spaces around each mosque.

The mosques are threatened with degradation by urbanization and strong population growth. To maintain their integrity, communities have developed traditional management systems cantered on families and local grassroot committees.

Authenticity

The authenticity of the eight mosques is ensured both by the form of the structures, the use, the construction materials and techniques, the management, and the geographical location. The available documentation does not, however, allow a full understanding of how details could have eroded over time.

Regarding the geographical location, all the mosques are located in the northern part of Côte d'Ivoire in the Gur and Mandé cultural areas. They have retained their rectangular or square shape.

In terms of construction and materials, although there have been interventions using modern materials, these appear to be reversible given that sufficient local materials remain and masons specializing in local earthen construction techniques still exist. The authenticity of materials and construction techniques remains highly vulnerable as it relies on continued community maintenance, the availability of skilled masons and the continued patronage of local families. The Sudanese-style mosques in northern Côte d'Ivoire bear witness to the use and adaptation of materials and construction techniques to a natural and cultural environment. The characteristics of these mosques are maintained through the use of materials (earth and wood) from the natural environment and traditional techniques. The skills related to Sudanese architecture are still held by the communities. The building techniques which are the cob and the adobe are perpetuated by the training of traditional masons.

In terms of how the symbolism of the buildings is understood, the boundaries of component parts and their buffer zones can be extended to encompass other spaces around the mosques and thus allow them to be perceived as such. In the vicinity of some constituent elements, modern mosques have recently been built. However, these mosques are still used as places of prayer and also have associated socio-cultural uses - weddings, baptisms, places of Quran teaching and spiritual retreat.

Protection and management requirements

There is a set of legal texts consisting of laws, decrees and orders that form the basis for the legal protection of the property, guaranteeing on the one hand the integrity of the boundaries of the property and, on the other hand, the implementation of all activities relating to the management of the property. Among these legal texts are Law No. 87-806 of 28 July 1987 on the protection of cultural heritage, Law No. 98-750 of 23 December 1998 relating to rural land, Law No. 2003-208 of 7 July 2003 on the transfer and distribution of competencies from the State to the local authorities, Law No. 2014-425 of 14 July 2014 on the national cultural policy, as well as Decree No. 88-413 of 20 April 1988 on the classification of historic sites and monuments of the city of Kong; Decree No. 2020-121 of 29 January 2020 on the classification of the Sudanese-style serial mosques of northern Côte d'Ivoire on the National Cultural Heritage List; Order No. 434/MCF/CAB of 15 October 2012 on the registration of cultural property on the national inventory. Order No. 03/MCIAS/CAB of 26 June 2021 on the organization and functioning of the Executive Secretariat for the Management of Sudanese-style Mosques in northern Côte d'Ivoire and the Interministerial Order on the organization and functioning of the "management system" of Sudanese-style mosques in northern Côte d'Ivoire which are directly related to the mosques in series, set out precisely the conditions of management, protection, conservation and enhancement, and create the management body.

In order to make the above-mentioned legal instruments effective, the State of Côte d'Ivoire has opted for a management system in consultation with all the stakeholders. The implementation of this management system will be based on close collaboration between the State institutions and specifically the Executive Secretariat and the populations (the communities) for a co-management of the property. This body is created by the provisions of Decree No. 2012-552 of 13 June 2012 on the creation, powers, organization and operation of the Ivorian Office for Cultural Heritage (OIPC), an operational structure responsible for implementing Government policy on the management, conservation, enhancement, protection and promotion of cultural sites inscribed on the National Heritage and World Heritage Lists.

In order to ensure optimal protection of the site, it appears necessary to widen the buffer zones so that they include the immediate urban environment of the mosques, and to reinforce the protection of the buffer zones by modifying the relevant local plans and regulations.

The current management arrangements (management system and the Executive Secretariat for the management of the mosques) are made operational and significantly strengthened to address issues related to declining traditional practices and pressures due to urban development.

For each mosque there is a local grassroots management committee. Its terms of reference are the roadmap and guidelines developed by the Ivorian Office for Cultural Heritage. This committee is largely composed of the indigenous communities supported by certain local elected officials. The particularity of this management system is that it is based on endogenous management mechanisms set up by members of the Muslim community of the localities concerned and formalized in eight grassroots local management committees by the OIPC.

All restoration works will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the existing normative instruments. Annual action plans will be adopted by the OIPC Management Board and implemented by the local grassroots management committees under the supervision of the Executive Secretariat. The management system will be evaluated every two years. The monitoring of this management system will be based on a perfect synergy of the interventions of the different stakeholders under the control and coordination of the Executive Secretariat for the management of mosques.

The involvement of the communities in the management creates the conditions for a better distribution of the benefits linked to the management of the mosques. Moreover, the skills and practices related to earthen architecture are thus more easily transmitted to the new generation. Therefore, it is essential to make this management system operational. It is also essential to develop a roadmap with actions and a time frame in which traditional conservation practices will be sufficiently robust, as well as a general approach to conservation for all component parts.

Conservation plans for each mosque need to be completed based on its current state of conservation and necessary interventions, and there is an urgent need to devise projects to correct the recent inappropriate interventions on the mosques of Kouto, Kaouara, Sorobango and Samatiguila.

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