Traditional village homes

As a follow up to Monday’s post on the Rwandan palaces, here are two photos of ordinary villagers’ homes from about 1950. I believe they are of the same village north of Lake Kivu near the Congo-Rwanda border.

View of the volcano Nyirangongo in the 1950s, from Guide touristique du voyageur, 1958 edition. (collection Gilbert Delapierre).
Village at the foot of Nyiragongo, about 1950 (collection Pierre Gallez, carte postale).

Photos via flickr here.

Enclosures of the kings

Thanks so much to WordPress.com for including this post on its “Freshly Pressed” page this week! 

Yesterday, we visited the Rukali Palace Museum in the town of Nyanza, a couple of hours south of Kigali.

The opening of the enclosure around the house of the keeper of the king’s milk.

The museum grounds hold a reconstruction of the palace of Mwami (King) Musinga Yuhi V (a few miles from its original location), as well as the actual Western-style palace built for his successor, Mwami Rudahigwa Mutara III, in 1932.

The reconstructed palace is currently undergoing a 5-year refurbishment.

Musinga lived in a palace like this from 1899 until his death in 1931.

An old photograph of the actual court of Mwami Musinga.

Traditional building and weaving techniques were used to make the structures of grass, reed, and bamboo. The work is very fine.

House of the keeper of the king’s milk.
The entrance to the house of the keeper of the king’s beer.
The inside partition is woven in such a way that an inhabitant could see out, but someone outside could not see in.
The ceiling.

A cow pen is part of the reconstruction. Cows were very important in Rwandan royal culture, and each of the king’s cows had a personal poem that was chanted or sung to call it out. They might also be decorated like this one.

A Rwandan cow wearing decoration at the reconstructed palace. Her keeper is chanting her own poem.
The pretty little calves are sleek as seals.

The modern palace (used from 1932 to 1959) is decorated inside and out in geometric motifs. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to take pictures inside.

The actual palace of Mwami Rudahigwa Mutara III, who lived here from 1932 until his death in 1959.
The front porch.
Inside, the home contains some original furniture, as well as historical photographs and maps.
Queen Rosalie and the king in the 1950s. The widowed queen was murdered in the 1994 genocide.

The courtyard garden is planted in hedges laid out in patterns like those traditionally used in baskets, mats, and room partitions.

The courtyard garden behind the more modern palace.
Room partitions of the reconstructed palace with traditional geometric patterns.

More about traditional Rwandan homes here.