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date: 18 August 2019

Sudanic architecturelocked

  • Mark Dike DeLancey

Extract

Term used to refer to architecture from the western Sudan, generally understood as encompassing Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and northern regions of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin. The term ‘Sudanic’ is derived from the Arabic phrase ‘Bilad al-Sudan’, or ‘Land of the Blacks’, used historically to denote sub-Saharan Africa. References to Sudanic architecture were first employed in the late 19th century, particularly by French colonial administrators and adventurers, to refer to the architecture of French West Africa. These commentators frequently likened the architecture of the region to that of Egypt, thereby endowing the French colony with a degree of prestige, particularly in the wake of waves of Egyptomania that washed across Europe in the 19th century.

Perhaps more controversial are the much more common references to the Sudanese style of architecture. While focused primarily in the regions referenced above, this interpretation may also incorporate works from surrounding regions such as Guinea, Senegal, and Nigeria. What exactly constitutes the Sudanese style has been the subject of extensive debate. The ...

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