The Ancient Paved Roads Of Ife

source: metmuseum
112

Ife Paved Roads dated 800 AD The categories given to the distinct periods of ancient Ife’s artistic production center around the paving of the city’s courtyards and passageways with terracotta bricks sometime around 1000 A.D., marking the beginning of Ife’s Pavement period. This practice is thought to be associated with the urbanization of Ife. The origin of the pavement is explained in a popular story: according to Yoruba mythology, Queen Oluwo ordered the construction of the pavements when her robes were muddied in the dirt. A centre of political and religious power, Ife has been a formidable city-state through much of the second millennium A.D. The flowering of Ife art coincided with the commercial expansion of the neighboring city-state of Oyo, a strategically placed trading centre, that channeled goods coming down the Niger River from the Songhai empire to Ife and other centers. The aesthetic style developed during the Pavement period of Ife art has been an ongoing influence in Yoruba sculptural styles since its inception. ... Excerpt: ''Ile-Ife is the most ancient Yoruba city, and is still venerated today by the Yoruba as their main cultural and religious center. It's practically a holy city. You may know of Ile-Ife due to its highly sophisticated terracotta and bronze castings, but did you know that the city had a complex system of paved roads? Evidently, an oral tradition concerning the distinguished Yoruba ruler Ono Olowo, apparently she was walking around the capital when her regalia was splattered with mud. Very upset, the Queen ordered the construction of pavements around all of the public and religious places of Ife(courtyards, shrines), made of ceramic tiles from pots. A quote concerning how potsherd pavements are created: How The Pavements Were Built ''The pathway or courtyard to be paved would be prepared by leveling the ground. The potsherds were then prepared by breaking them into pieces. The soil was then well-kneaded to make for a good sub-base providing the working platform. The soil base was mixed with residual water from the palm-oil industry and left to ferment for two to three days. In the absence of residual water from the palm-oil base, the soil was mixed with palm-oil. Where there was no palm-oil, the soil was left to ferment longer, say, one-week. Mixing the soil with palm-oil was done to provide uniform heating when the pavement was being "baked'. After the base was prepared, the potsherds were then stuck into the prepared soil and then arranged into whatever design was desired, be it herringbone or straight-row design. The pavement was then left to dry out before being "baked". In the baking process, dry wood and shrubs were packed on top of the pavement and set on fire''''. Typical Paved Courtyard In Ancient Ife World famous Ife Bronzes, dated 10th to 14th centuries

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