Roadside planters and imigongo

Town planters in eastern Rwanda/enclos*ure

While traveling in southeastern Rwanda on Thursday, we stopped for lunch in Nyakarambi.  I liked the town’s roadside planters, which are painted in the graphic patterns of imigongo art.

Town planters in eastern Rwanda/enclos*ure

All the planters held rather dusty palm trees. We are in the middle of the long dry season, which will last until early September.

Imigongo paintings traditionally decorated the interiors of houses in this part of Rwanda. The raised designs are made with cow dung and painted with white kaolin clay and a black substance made from aloe plant sap and the ash of burned banana skins and Solanum aculeastrum fruit.  Other natural colors — red, grey, and ochre — are also used, and today’s artists often add representations of people and houses.

Nyakarambi has a cooperative and shop devoted to imigongo.  I added to my little collection with the piece below, which is about 12″ x 14″.

Imigongo painting, Rwanda/enclos*ure

I didn’t take any photos of the cooperative while we were there; the women weren’t working and their stock of paintings was small. But, several months ago, we were at Nyungwe Forest Lodge, which has several walls in the lobby displaying imigongo.

Imigongo at Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Rwanda:enclos*ure

Imigongo on walls at Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Rwanda:enclos*urePhoto just above by M. Koran.