African painted houses: Basotho dwellings of Southern Africa
Traditionally, Basotho women grow the crops that sustain the family while the men tend the cattle that are their wealth. Like many peoples around the world who live off the land, the Basotho seek the protection and intervention of their ancestors with the forces of nature to insure adequate rainfall, plentiful sunshine, and a peaceful environment. Uniquely, these "prayers" are regularly expressed as inscribed and painted designs on the broad, flat walls of their one-story houses. In recent times the lives of Basotho families have changed considerably, but the women still tend the homesteads and paint their houses freshly every year, for rain washes away the designs over time. In this book van Wyk explores the early history of the people - the story of the remarkable king, Moshoeshoe, who united them and kept them independent - and the ceremonies that persist even in the modern world. He describes and illustrates with his color photographs male and female diviners and healers, and the sacred landscape that the people revere. Best of all, excellent photographs of the houses and the painters illustrate the fascinating text.
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