Yoruba Architecture

Yoruba Architecture is the architecture of the Yoruba People. Yoruba Architecture includes palaces, walls, compounds, and organizational layout. 

Old Oyo

Old Oyo was comprised of four provinces. Each province had its main center. The province of Old Oyo had its own main center. Ikoyo was the main center of the province of Old Oyo. Within the province, minor centers to Ikoyo was established. The palace or afin of Old Oyo's Alafin,  was a 640 acre or 1 square mile compound. It had numerous courtyards and rooms. Fifty courtyards of varying size.  Posts were carved with bas relief. Walls were decorated. The palace was built with a mixture of mud, shea butter, and palm oil. The afin was located on the tallest hill within the city and was surrounded by the tallest inner wall of the city.

Old Oyo was divided into wards. Titled nobles and chiefs controlled each ward. Their dwellings tended to be elevated on the highest point,  more elaborate, and enclosed by tall inner wall.  


Yorubas typically surrounded their cities and towns with giant walls and deep trenches. This became common after the 1800s, due to constant civil wars among Yorubas. Walls also had huge gates occuppied by a wall man who collected tolls for the town. Tolls were typically paid in coweries. 


Yorubas built their compounds with mudbrick, a mixture of mud and palm oil. The roof was made of palm leaf. Compounds could range from simple to complex and elaborate. It tended to reflect class and status. The most basic Yoruba compounds were just two rooms, the main living area for cooking and the room for sleeping. Others were four compounds tied together around a central courtyard. Each compound had a veranda around the courtyard.

Works Cited

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