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6.9: Djenne of Mali (9th C – 15th C)

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    Djenne-Djenno is one of the oldest known cities in sub-Saharan Africa, located on the Niger River in Mali, and may have participated in extended trade. They reached a high peak in the 9th century before starting to decline. Islam was the main religion, and Djenne is the home of the Great Mosque today. The original mosque dated from the 13th or 14th century and made of clay, an accessible natural resource. Artifacts of mud houses have been excavated, providing evidence of mass production of African rice contributed to population growth.

    Clay horseman
    6.41 Clay horseman
     Terra cotta figure
    6.42 Terra cotta figure

    Clay vessels, cast brass, and forged iron artifacts have survived today, exhibiting a diverse and sophisticated society. Most relics demonstrating the life of the communities were found in archaeological digs, sadly subject to looting and theft. Terracotta figures were elaborately constructed with details of clothing or jewelry and extra body ornaments seen as protrusions in unusual places. There are also men on horses (6.41), figures that are sitting, kneeling, or entwined by serpents.

    The Djenne figure (6.42) huddles with his knee crossed over his other leg, why he is in the position is still unknown to researchers. The terra cotta figure is 25 by 29 centimeters and over 700 years old.