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Friedrich Wilhelm Schwerdtfeger
Hausa Urban Art and its Social Background
External House Decorations in a Northern Nigerian City
"When I started my investigation of decorated houses in the walled city of Zaria in late 1976, it was above all to record the rapidly disappearing external wall decorations. Hence, the survey was perceived as a rescue operation to collect as many photographs and drawings as possible before these decorations disappeared altogether, and also to record vital information about them from compound heads living in decorated houses, and from the master craftsmen who created them.
During an introductory stock-taking survey we listed nearly one thousand decorated houses. When I concluded the survey in 1985 the material collected included 75 recorded life stories of craftsmen. When I finally completed the manuscript of this book hardly any of the old traditional external wall decorations had survived. It was obvious that traditional wall decoration had become a thing of the past, no longer relevant to the younger generation of compound heads in the city of Zaria, and indeed in most other traditional towns in northern Nigeria."
( From the introduction)
PART I THE CLIENTELE: 1. The Client in Hausa Society, 2. The Role of Compound Heads in House Decoration, 3. The Perception of Decorations, 4. Decoration as a Status and Group Symbol;
PART II THE CRAFTSMEN: 1. Craftsmen in Hausa Society, 2. The History of the Building Profession, 3. The Role of Decoration in the Building Trade, 4. The Production and Perception of Decoration, 5. The Training of Craftsmen, 6. Craftsmen and the Supernatural, 7. The Use of Decorative Motifs by Craftsmen;
PART III THE DECORATION: 1. The History and Development of Wall Decorations, 2. The Aesthetics of Wall Decorations, 3. The Influence of Islam on Wall Decoration, 4. Decoration in Hausa Society
F. W. Schwerdtfeger is professor at the Department of Architecture, Ahmadu Bello University, Zarai, Nigeria.