The Great Mosque has roof vents capped with ceramic bowls, made by the women of Djenné, which can be removed to help ventilate the interior. Each tower is topped by an ostrich egg, a symbol of fertility.
Mali – Photo Tip

Be discreet if you want foreground figures

Photo by Jeff Overs

Mali – Photo Tip Be discreet if you want foreground figures

Djenné raises its head just above the flood plain and is like a vast hive drawn up from wet inland delta earth. It is still a city hardly touched by the 21st century.

Jeff Overs
Jeff Overs

Though the few hotels in Djenné have electricity, to walk the streets at night with only oil lamps (and the dazzling starlight) illuminating the adobe courtyards is amazing and timeless. It’s a cliché to say it but in this case it really is true that you step back a thousand years.

People (especially women) are wary of being photographed and so you have to be discreet to get foreground figures. Entry to the Great Mosque is closed to tourists because a French photographer used it a decade ago for a fashion shoot of scantily clad models.

However, a small tip to one of the boys hanging about will get you in, unless you are a woman as they are forbidden. It is actually more impressive on the outside, especially from an overlooking rooftop – another small fee required – during the vast and dusty Monday Market held in front of it. With all the dust and hustle and bustle, one can almost blend into the background.

6-djenne-stalls

The first mosque was built on this site in Djenné around the 13th century but the current building dates to 1907, during the French colonial era. It was rebuilt in the neo-Sudanese style that the French adopted for their colonial architecture, but under the supervision of the head of the local masons’ guild, Ismaila Traoré. Photo by Jeff Overs

Jeff Overs

Jeff Overs

Nikon D2X

Aperture
ƒ/8
Exposure
1/250
ISO
100
Focal
14 mm

The first mosque was built on this site in Djenné around the 13th century but the current building dates to 1907, during the French colonial era. It was rebuilt in the neo-Sudanese style that the French adopted for their colonial architecture, but under the supervision of the head of the local masons’ guild, Ismaila Traoré.

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