Decorated architecture as a material culture: a preliminary look at the vernacular architecture of the Msinga area

Whelan, Deborah (2003) Decorated architecture as a material culture: a preliminary look at the vernacular architecture of the Msinga area. Southern African Humanities, 15 . pp. 129-141. ISSN 1681-5564

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It is well documented that indigenous vernacular and traditional architectures are a product of climatic and geographical influences. In addition, people often surround themselves with material evidence of their metaphysical environments and cultural belief system, evident in art, craft and clothing production. Vernacular architectures or the indigenous built environments were often studied in isolation, and have only recently been acknowledged as a reflection of the material cultural patterns of the people that built them. The decorated architecture of the Mthembu and Mchunu clans of the Msinga district in KwaZulu-Natal reflects a synergy of the material cultures of the area, where buildings display not only the physical pattern systems seen in the material culture, but also the cognitive patterning of the culture of the people that build them. The architecture is unique in the regional context as it is decorated, a feature unusual for Zulu buildings. It shows that the decorated buildings are as much a part of the material culture as the distinctive local beadwork and earplugs. In addition, the temporal development of the wall decoration styles appears to have been a process that has evolved as a result of dynamic religious, cultural, and aesthetic systems. It is important to include the indigenous vernacular architecture as part of a broader scheme of decorative traditions and not to read it in architectural isolation. This paper seeks to offer interpretations suggested by informants of the decorated building tradition, to identify the different styles of wall painting, and to realise their contribution in the greater decorative culture of Zulu speaking people.

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Keywords:decorated buildings, msinga, Zulu, vernacular architecture
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K190 Architecture not elsewhere classified
L Social studies > L610 Social and Cultural Anthropology
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:28977
Deposited On:20 Aug 2018 14:08

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