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I stood upon a hilltop in Idanre land, 900m above the surrounding plains. Before me sat the ancient Oba’s Palace, surrounded by thickets of verdant forests, outshoots of granite rocks and relics of the ageless Oke-Idanre village. The mud buildings stand bold and strong, through centuries they endured countless downpours of fearsome rains and inestimable volumes of raging solar heat. Bold, sturdy and resilient they stood, radiating their timeless beauty and charm through well structured layouts, carefully crafted columns, windows and doors, bearing the artistic patterns and imprints of the ancient African art. Old Oke-Idanre is a relic ancient settlement, located up on the gigantic hills of Idanre area, in Ondo State, southwestern Nigeria.
Almost all the houses had courtyards, while the finer and stronger looking structures had more than one courtyard e.g The ancient Oba’s Palace. Each of the courtyards is surrounded by rooms which open into the courtyard. Since the Yoruba culture permitted polygamy, it was necessary for a wealthy man to have more than one courtyard in his house back in those days, so that each wife had a courtyard to herself and her children. In a king’s palace, some courtyards are also built specially for religious purposes as seen at the ancient Oba’s Palace in Akure.
Also, it is quite interesting to note that ancient builders in Yoruba land had a good knowledge of roofing structures. The buildings at Old Oke-Idanre has varying roof types, ranging from heap roof types, to gable roof and lean-to roof types. Some of the well built houses in the village has thick and sturdy columns supporting the roof at the front of the houses, while others has simple wooden poles as pillars. At the Oba’s Palace, the roofs are supported by creatively and artistically carved human figures.
Some of the buildings has slanting outer walls supported by protruding triangular buttresses, but upright in the interiors. Where the foundations are exposed, it can be seen that they are made of an intricate mixture of clay and granite slabs. In front of most of the buildings, the foundations projected outwards and could have probably served as sitting platforms outside the house where the people could sit on when eating, playing board games such as Ayò-Olópón etc. In addition, the characteristic low roofs of the buildings could have provided shade for the projected sitting platforms.
It is also possible to decipher the status of the owner of some of the houses; for example a houses suspected to belong to a wealthy man appears larger than most of the other houses in the village and the design is unique and beautiful. The edges of its columns are also well defined, unlike most houses whose columns were made of single poles of raw or sawn wood.
The ancient magistrate court shows a simple design and a little ‘formal’ character, as its columns were made of mud, but strong and well defined, unlike the columns of the Oba’s Palace which were composed of wood pillars carved into different figures, giving an aura of cultural significance. The witness box in the court room is made entirely of mud.
Furthermore, there is noticeable and detailed artistic beautification of the window boards, frames and roof boards on some of the buildings, especially at the Oba’s Palace.
Nevertheless, as advanced as architecture is in our world today, there may be countless lessons and ideas to pick from these structures.
– Pictures showing the aerial view of the ancient Oba’s Palace with its many courtyards and gable roofs.
Notice the carved roof boards and beautifully made windows.
– The ancient magistrate court at Old Oke-Idanre. The structure shows a simple design and a little ‘formal’ character, as its columns were made of mud, but strong and well defined, unlike the columns of the Oba’s Palace which were composed of wood pillars carved into different figures, giving an aura of cultural significance.
– Notice the lean-to roof at the centre of the picture.
– Buttresses on the outer walls of some of the houses in the village.
– Stone-paved pathway leading into the Oba’s Palace. Its loose joints allow for easy flow of rain water down the pathway.
– Sturdy columns supporting the roof at the front of one of the houses in the village. Notice the small courtyard at the side of the house.
– Stone walls, heap roof and projected foundation as sitting area at the front of the house. This house appears to belong to a wealthy man as the house is large and the design is unique and beautiful. The edges of the columns are also well defined.
This article was written by Folarin Kolawole
Founder of Naijatreks, Nigerian-born Folarin Kolawole is a geologist, travel writer and researcher. When not at work, he travels the length and breadth of Nigeria, exploring, taking photos and writing about her numerous hidden tourist potentials. 'Naijatreks' is a product name registered under the Ntreks brand, which is also duly registered by Nigeria's Federal Corporate Affairs Commission. The contents on this blog are re-usable. However, it must be ensured that it is linked back to this blog, and correctly attributed to Naijatreks or the author. Please do not edit, rewrite or commercialize the original works on this blog without direct and written permission from the Founder (Folarin Kolawole). For inquiries and advert placement on the blog, kindly contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.