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On our tour of Stone Town, we learned some interesting facts about the carvings on the doors (as posted last week). We stopped at one door in particular, where our guide told us the following about the family, based solely on what he saw on the door:

  • Chains carved into the door frame indicate that the family owned slaves.
  • pineapple indicated that the family owned plantations (likely growing pineapple). The pineapple is also a symbol of hospitality.
  • The fish scales on the door had dual meaning: one, that in addition to being a farmer, the homeowner was also a fisherman or dealt in the fish trade. And two, it served as a warning or precaution – that you should “take care” when visiting the family, and do not cause trouble for them, lest harm befall you.
  • The Arabic carving at the top of the door is the family’s name and is typically accompanied by a quote from the Koran.

Zanzibar Doors (1) Zanzibar Doors (2) Zanzibar Doors (3)

~Lainey