Describe the Great Mosque of Jenne, as on p. 417, including the image label, and using terms, such as torons, and mihrab (look up in the glossary at end of book). Include the materials, engaged columns, ostrich eggs, symbolism, and the overall effect.
The second mosque in the city of Jenne, Great Friday Mosque, was in turn replaced by the current grand mosque, constructed between 1906 and 1907 on the ancient site in the style of the 13th century original. The architect Ismaila Traore, the head of the Jenne guild of masons, supervised the reconstruction. The mosque’s eastern, or “marketplace,” façade boasts three tall towers, the center of which contains the mihrab. The finials, or crowning ornaments, at the top of each tower bear ostrich eggs, symbols of fertility and purity. The façade and sides of the mosque are distinguished by tall, narrow, engaged columns, which act as buttresses. These columns are characteristic of West African mosques architecture, and their cumulative rhythmic effect is one of great verticality and grandeur. The most unusual features of west African mosques are the torons, wooden beams projecting from the walls. Torons provide permanent supports for the scaffolding erected each year so that the exterior of the mosque can be replastered. The plan of the mosque is not quite rectangular. Inside, nine rows of heavy adobe columns, 33 feet tall and linked by pointed arches, supposrt a flat ceiling of palm logs. A great double wall only slightly lower than the walls of the mosque itself encloses an open courtyard on the west side. The main entrances to the prayer hall are in the north wall.