The King's Palace
24 March 2012
Until 1959, Rwanda's King lived
in the Palace. All huts had a spike at the center of the roof.
Only the King's Palance had three spikes on top.
The lower two spikes represent the horns of the King's traditional cattle.
Whenever the King died,
the next King (son or brother of the last king) was required to construct
a new palace.
Bamboo fence around the King's
Every hut has only one entrance.
The entrance to the King's Palace has unique features.
The King's stool is just inside the entrance on the left.
Visitors were required to remove shoes and enter over the
white ridge on the floor after they received permission from the King.
Crossing the line
The Main Chamber of the King's
A fireplace is just out of view in the foreground.
Layers of grass under the woven floor mats makes for soft, muffled walking.
The vertical semicurcular room dividers of woven plant fibers
separate the main room from the King's bedroom
which is entered via the central opening.
From the Main Chamber looking
to the Entrance of the Palace
The interior is softly lit as outdoor light filters through the bamboo screens.
Ceiling and supports
exterior of thatch made of elephant grass and interior of woven bamboo provide
excellent waterproofing and insulation.
Even when the tropical sun is fiercely hot, the inside temperature remains
Woven baskets in the King's bedroom
Center of the dome
Elegantly simple construction
of natural materials
Sunlight through a bamboo screen
Milk jugs in the Milkmaid's hut
The Queen Mother selected a young
girl from the tribe to serve as the King's milkmaid.
It was her duty to provide the finest milk for the king. The Milkmaid lived
in her special hut just behind the King's Palace.
Milk was kept in wooden bottles topped with conical woven lids.
Gourds stored other liquids.
The Milkmaid's Hut (left) and
the Beer Hut (right) are located just behind the King's Palace
A select young man lived alone
in the Beer Hut and
made banana beer exclusively for the King.
Vessels in the Beer Hut
The King had a herd of Traditional
Cattle with distinctive horns.
These were a sign of his great wealth.
The herd is kept in a pen behind the King's Palace.
Each animal was decorated with woven necklaces and was
identified by a unique song sung by the attendants.
When the King participated in ceremonial events, he was accompanied by his
A bull from the King's herd
Evidence of skirmishes:
A bull's horn
A pair of frowns
After Germany lost World War II,
Rwanda became Belgian colony. In 1959 the Belgians built this modern palace
the King of Rwanda. Lavishly decorated with fine furniture, it now serves
as museum with many photographs
showing the colonial history of Rwanda. When the last King died, his brother
became King but the brother is living
in the United States and has not returned to Rwanda, which is now governed
by an elected President and Parliment.
The former King's Palace.
A design found on the wall of
the former King's Palace