Gurunsi earth houses

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Gurunsi earth houses

The patchwork like villages of the Gurunsi, which can attain a diameter of 60 metres are inhabited by very large polygamous family groups: several brothers and their wives (about sixteen of them) and 30-40 children. The wives build 3-5 roomed living quarters around an interior courtyard, with the fortress -like outer walls having no windows. The doors and windows of the houses open only onto the interior courtyard, in the centre of which stand the house of the head of the family (the oldest brother), storerooms, granaries and pens for the animals. 

They build their houses out of a cob-like material, made of a mixture of clay, straw and cow dung trampled and dried in the sun, with wooden-framed roofs. The women decorate the walls with distinctive geometric patterns and figurative designs etched into the walls or painted on with coloured mud.

The houses comprise a circular kitchen, long living room and a few bedrooms. The windows are small and placed low down to help cool the interior. There are no beds, and at night blankets are strewn on the earth floor unless it is very warm outside, in which case the inhabitants sleep outside on the roof terraces. The courtyard is divided by walls of various heights into private, semi-private and public areas. The Gurunsi cook, wash clothes, bathe and generally spend most of the year outdoors.