monasteries of lake tanaa
The eucalyptus-structured buildings grew out of an older tradition of dung building in ethiopia, some monumental examples of which i got to see in the churches of LakeTanaa, near Bahir Dar. In these massive structures, the walls are constructed of dung and fiber, while the doors inlaid are of solid trunks of wood. The church is built around a square wooden box altar that is covered with brightly colored paintings, whose color has been preserved by the darkness maintained inside. The inner wall, a solid earthen ring buttressed at three points, is offset by a lightweight outer wood frame, covered by a bamboo screen which is attached by leather. It is tied when wet so that it shrinks into place as it dries. A similar detail holds the under-layer of the roof together. Although they were originally built with dried grass roofs, the monks have switched to aluminum sheets because they better protect the paintings inside.
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