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Zulu Architecture

December 22, 2022

Zulu architecture is a style of architecture used by the Zulu people of South Africa. They have developed a unique architectural structure that blends rural and urban elements. Their houses, known as indlus, are symbolic of their culture. These structures are designed to be spacious and offer peculiar insight into the life of the Zulu.

Indlus have a dome-like shape, which protects them from the harsh climate of Southern Africa. These houses also include a thatched roof. The houses are also made with locally available materials. Some of the materials used to construct the houses include mud bricks, thatched roofs, and grass ropes.

The use of materials in Zulu architecture is characteristic of the local culture. Women and men are involved in the construction process. This type of architecture emphasizes the importance of family ties and the use of space.

Historically, the homes of the Zulu were shaped like domes. But, as the culture advanced, they transformed into domes over cylinder-shaped walls. During this time, some traditional huts had mats underneath them. Thatching with insulation was also a common design element. It provided temperature control in areas where air conditioning was not available.

In addition to the hemispherical framework, Zulu dwellings incorporate three other key components: UMSAMO, a woven grass mat on the axis of the entrance; UMYAGAZO, a protective skirt for the hemispherical framework; and IZINGO, a timber post or sapling. Each one of these structures is supported by a horizontal brace.

Aside from the thatched roof, another important feature of Zulu architecture is the beehive structure. This type of housing requires special skills for its construction. Initially, the beehive structure was developed from crude shelters, such as caves and overhangs. Later on, they were made of grass, which was more resistant to temperature changes.

In the context of Zulu architecture, the beehive structure is a perfect example of how form and function are harmoniously combined. By providing shelter, it allowed the members of the community to gather together. Beehive structures are also easy to maintain. However, they require skilled labor and sophisticated materials.

Traditionally, the interiors of these houses were decorated with bright colors. Moreover, each section was sewn. To ensure that the house was sturdy and sturdy, a wooden door was installed.

Since cattle was a symbol of power and wealth in the Zulu society, they were kept in the kraal, which was a circular enclosure. There were also separate utensils for different types of foods.

As a result, the kraal was an essential part of the capital city of the Zulu. It was set up next to a hill for sanitary purposes. Eventually, Shaka turned the kraal into a military fortress. When Shaka died, his ashes were buried in the cattle kraal.

Zulu culture places great responsibility on women, who are in charge of building houses. Besides the responsibilities of house-building, women are also tasked with the responsibility of performing the reed dance. Other women take care of the animals.


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