Doors of Zanzibar: An Appreciation Post // FrameAmbition

Hello hello!

A couple of weeks back I was lucky enough to visit Zanzibar for the first time and cover Sauti za Busara festival which I have been dying to go to for years, and was every bit as fantastic as I hoped. The festival is held entirely in Stone Town which made the beautiful UNESCO Heritage site my base for a week.

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My first encounter with Arab-inspired doors on the Swahili Coast was closer to home in Mombasa's Old Town - my clearest memory of the beginning of my love is a voice (I can't for the life of me remember whose) explaining to me that the carved flowers on the intricate wooden doors of a home were to represent how many daughters the family had.

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There was more information on that tour probably, but that particularly stood out to me.

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 A Swahili door and a blue scooter across from my hostel on Gizenga Street

A Swahili door and a blue scooter across from my hostel on Gizenga Street

Arabic Doors vs Swahili Doors

So this trip I learned something new! Arabic or Arab-inspired doors are the more intricately carved ones, sometimes with an arched top and usually with a carved strip down the middle. They may have the same or similar strips on either side of the door and brass ornaments or studs - borrowed from the Indian Gujarati style which originally were spikes used to prevent battering by elephants. Swahili doors are much more simple with a grid pattern and almost exclusively rectangular.

 A Swahili Door with minor metal ornamentation

A Swahili Door with minor metal ornamentation

 A Green Arab-style door with Qur'an verses inscribed above it

A Green Arab-style door with Qur'an verses inscribed above it

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Are you a fan? Comment your favourite door below!

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Be cool.

J.

xx