This week Frida-54 takes you to the discovery of the Hausa Land and its detailed architecture with colours and a very meaningful design type

Hausas is a Sahel tribe mainly estalished in the North of Nigeria and in the South of Niger to the Lake Chad. Bigger communities can also be found in the North of Benin, of Ghana and of Cameroon. Most tries that are found in Cameroun are coming from other countries due to migration that happened long ago and the Hausa are also concerned y this rule.


The Hausas have a great sense of communism and this influences their way of life and their methods of living. They build houses where they can live in large groups of people. The Hausas need large spaces for their wedding ceremonies, their funerals and for prayer. This helps them to be closer to each other.

The separation of men and women also influences the building of their houses. These houses are built so as to contain as many wives and children as possible and to enable each and every one to have some space outside.

It is a society where social class is fully respected and one can know who is from a higher or inferior class, just by looking at the design in their houses


Sun dried earth bricks are used to build walls in a method called Tubali. They use laterite soil which they mix with water and when they are well dry they dispose them in a vertical direction. These houses usually have small doors and windows to hinder mosquitoes and flies from entering into the house.

The floors are usually decorated by women with THA. The laterite soil is mixed with clay and laid to form a solid soil area. The floor is then covered with gravel and flattened with a tool called Madabi. All the tools and material used are locally made.

The traditional Hausa house is decorated based on the social class of the owner. In the Mallawa family (which is a large middle class family), the walls of the house are made very high to keep the privacy of the inhabitants of the house. The decorations are mainly made on the pinnacles of the walls with multi forms patterns. The decoration in the Mallawa household is usually very simple in order for it not to compete with the Emir’s Palace. In the Zaria family (which is the royal family), the design is very much detailed and has brighter colours. The mostly used designs for palaces are umbrellas, fans and turbans which represent royalty and wealth. The walls of the palace are mainly decorated at the entrance and are usually made up of charms meant to protect the people in the house. These charms are made up of circles and triangles and are called Talhatana.

As the main religion of this people, Islam can also influence the designs of the house just like the social status. Symbols like the moo, ajar of water, the entrance or the gates of a mosque, the work tools of the man in the house can be found on walls.

Colours are also very much used by the Hausa people and each colour has a particular meaning for them. The white colour called the Fari is used to represent good qualities and joy and Farin Jini which means white blood shows that the person is well appreciated in his community. The red colour can be associated to mysticism or to power but in other contexts it can have negative meanings. Other colours like green, blue represents Islam and everything related to religion. Yellow and the golden colour represent royalty.

Décoration murale avec des couleurs et des motifs


Since the 70’s traditional Hausa houses in towns like Zinder (Niger) or Zaria, Kaduna and Kano in Nigeria are becoming things of the past. As it is the case everywhere else in Africa, occidental ways of building have become a must and they have become the new symbol of social status. With the rise of cement built houses, the old ways of building houses have also be forgotten. Despite this, decorated walls are slowly coming back in towns like Niamey, the capital of Niger. It would be very interesting to see these houses and their architecture brought back to life by modern architects who will not mind to keep the core values of this people in mind.


la Biennale des Métiers de l'Art et de la Création, révélation 4


Frida-54 x Musée Quai Branly