The 1700s saw a peak period in the transatlantic slave trade. Between 1716 and 1755, 30,000 Igbos were brought to Colonial Virginia as enslaved farm laborers, domestic servants, and artisans. Igboland is now part of modern-day Nigeria.
The Frontier Culture Museum, which I introduced a few days ago with the 17th century English farmhouse, also houses an Igbo compound to honor the contributions made by Africans to the developing American culture. This compound is a re-creation of a prosperous Igbo household in the 1700s.
The orange tones here reminded me very much of the reddish soil I had seen during my visit to West Africa many years ago.
Stepping through the gate, I felt transported back to the continent that was Mother to all of us so long ago:
It had been raining most of the day and the rivulets of water transformed the court yard into a soggy, muddy quagmire:
This Australian visitor was undeterred by the rain (Hello, Lolla!) and asked the museum staff person many questions:
We learned that the Igbo were an industrious and flourishing tribe in the Biafran hinterlands. They had domesticated many plants and animals. Their farming techniques were well adapted to the surrounding rainforest environment. Land was cleared with machetes and fire for food production.
The men grew the all important yam, a starchy tuber, while the women raised vegetables and other tubers in between the yam hills. An average household (consisting of a male with several wives, their children, and often additional relatives) required a large amount of yam. Many hundreds of hills of seed yams had to be planted and carefully tended to in order to secure an abundant harvest.
Each stage of the yam’s growth was marked with rituals and celebrations, ending with the harvest and storage of the tubers in a barn. The importance of yam to Igbo culture reminded me very much of the significance of corn to many Native American tribes.
The Igbo were well known for their basket weaving and pottery making skills. These are samples of essential food and water storage containers found in a typical household.
The buildings and compound enclosure were constructed with clay, bamboo, and local wood. Roofs were made from raffia palm thatch.
The Igbo practiced the art of weaving to produce essential textile products for the household.
The inside of a house contained various household and ritual objects.
Leaving the compound felt like a fast-forward motion into a different time and place, especially when the world beyond the compound walls re-appeared.
The theme of the Weekly Photo challenge is: Orange.