Franschhoek The Huguenots Museum Information



The Hut

The Khoi hut was easily built, portable and suitable for all seasons. During the summer heat it was cool and airy, yet in the wet winters it provided a watertight shelter. This was because of the porous nature of the reed, Cyperus textilis.

The hut had only one entrance, covered with a reed mat or a piece of hide. In olden days an elephant's ear was sometimes used for this purpose.

The Framework

The framework was constructed from wooden laths. It was the women's work to cut these laths from Rhus species (Taaibos), Cliffortia odorata (Wildewingerd) and other tree species. Laths were bent into a crescent shape. The top ends were tied together, with bark of Struthiola ciliata (Stroopbos), Passerina filiformis (Gonnabos), Cyperus textilis, etc., to form a dome shaped framework.

The Mats

The reed mats used by the Khoikhoi of the Western and Southern Cape were made from Cyperus Textilis. Mats were woven by the women. Cut reeds were sun dried till yellow and then woven together by means of a rope of Cyperus Textilis. Several mats were used to cover a hut. They were tied to the framework and overlapped, to prevent rainwater from running into seams. From the early 17th century the Khoi huts, according to observers, were covered with reed mats as well as animal skins, thus providing better protection against wind and rain.

The Floor

The floor, of compacted clay, was put in last and smeared with cow manure. A fire-hole was dug in the middle of the floor, with sleeping hollows (about 15cm deep) around it, lined with "Hotnotskooigoed" (Helichrysum petiolatum) and topped with karosses.

2005, Huguenot Memorial Museum, Designed by Art-FX