Zanzibari woman sitting with her child on Caravasera building door in Mallindi, Zanzibar.
The doors of Zanzibar are an iconic feature of the Stone Town district, the old city of Zanzibar. These ornate and historic doors not only serve a practical purpose but also represent the island’s diverse cultural heritage and are a fascinating testament to its history.
Zanzibar doors are well known for their intricate and colorful carvings, which often incorporate a range of Swahili, Arabic, Indian and European elements. Made from teak or mahogany wood, these doors boast impressive craftsmanship that draws attention from tourists and locals alike.
The doors have a distinct cultural significance and served as symbols of status and wealth in historic times. In the past, it is believed that the wider and heavier the door, the more powerful and wealthy the owner of the house was. The doors also played a significant part in Swahili wedding ceremonies, where the newlyweds were welcomed into their new home through a specially adorned door.
Today, many historic doors are still standing and have been preserved to embody the tradition and old charm of Stone Town. Walking tours of Zanzibar’s doorways have become popular among visitors, who admire the different designs, motifs, and symbolism depicted on the doors. There is a wide range of beautiful door designs to see, and each one tells its own unique story.
In summary, the doors of Zanzibar are a remarkable sight that epitomizes the rich traditions and cultural heritage of the island. They bar witness to Zanzibar’s unique past, and remain a proud symbol of the island’s history and identity.
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