A Voortrekker Display

The last time I was in South Africa, I took my children to see a monument I had seen many times as a school-going child.

In front of the Voortrekker Monument, and the first flight of stairs I climbed to get to the top. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
In front of the Voortrekker Monument, and the first flight of stairs I climbed to get to the top. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

I have posted on this unusual monument before (the architectural highlights, the voortrekker’s wagon, its unique characteristics, and its windows). In this post, I want to share with you some of the interesting displays that have been laid out for visitors to see in the basement of the building.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker dolls. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My children were impressed by the toys the voortrekker children used to play with. The girls used to play with hand-made dolls (shown above) and the boys used to take the jaw bones and teeth of animals that had been killed and pretend they were wagons and oxen (shown below).

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker boys’ toys. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

In the days of the voortrekkers, people used to use gunpowder in their guns. Hollowed out horns were used to store the gunpowder in. These were slung over the hunter’s shoulder.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Holders for gu powder. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Even the guns they used were a lot different from what we see today:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker guns. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The one display case held an array of interesting objects. The wood was all hand carved and the objects looked more unique than those we find today. Here is a shaving kit used by the men:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Decorated shaving kit. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Some embroidery samplers were laid out to show the women’s skill at sewing;

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
An embroidery sampler. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Each family would have a Bible from which they would read every night:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Family Bible. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

In the front of each Bible, the family tree would be inserted:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Family Tree. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The writing implements they used to use were a quill and ink. It is amazing how beautiful the penmanship was:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Writing implements. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Clothes during that time were handmade. Christening dresses were used more than once within a family:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Handmade christening dress. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Hats and personal items were uniquely embroidered:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Needle book with pins and thread. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The voortrekker women wore hats that protected their face and neck from the sun:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker women hats. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

There was a display up showing us what the men and women wore during that time. My picture is a little fuzzy as the lighting in the basement is not very bright. The picture, however, does give you an idea of the clothes they wore. The ones pictured here would have been their Sunday best – the clothing they would have worn to go to church.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Voortrekker clothing. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The men wore shoes (veldskoene) made from the hide of the animals they had killed for food.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Veldskoene. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

On display was also a Zulu shield, assegai (spear) and animal hide that the warriors would use in battle.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Zulu warrior’s kit. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

We enjoyed strolling around in the basement and looking at these items. They helped to give us a sense of who the voortrekkers were. My children enjoyed their mini history lesson and came out of the monument asking many questions about the past.

Do you enjoy visiting displays of the past?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was created as a response to a comment made by Belinda at Busy Mind Thinking on one of my Voortrekker Monument posts. The weekly photo challenge at WordPress encouraged me to complete the post that had been sitting in my draft box.)

 

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A Patterned Floor

One of the things one has to do when visiting the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, South Africa is to climb to the top of the building. From the top, one looks down and is about to see the beautiful patterned floor.

Sunlight lightens the interior of the building as seen from the top of the monument. From this view you can also see the Cenotaph. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
The patterned floor of the Voortrekker Monument. . © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

They have recently installed a small elevator so that those who are unable to climb the steep, narrow stairs can still look down from high.

Where have you seen patterned floors?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

(This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. This week’s prompt is: patterns)

 

The Voortrekker’s Wagon

When the Voortrekker’s (pilgrims) left the Cape in the 1830s for The Great Trek (journey), their mode of transport was the large wagon which was pulled by oxen.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A display of the Voortrekker wagon. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

These wagons became the homes of the men and women who were looking for land on which to settle.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
The cooking pot. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The oxen were driven by the men over land that had never felt the rumbling of large wooden wheels.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Voortrekker man. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The wagon was large and had plenty of space inside.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
The wagon used by the Voortrekkers. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The women and children would ride in the back of the wagon that also carried their supplies and belongings.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A Voortrekker woman and child. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

My family and I had the opportunity to look at these wagons when we visited the Voortrekker Monument. It was interesting to see these lifelike displays of a moment in South African history.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
The Voortrekker Wagon. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

These men and women travelled great distances using this mode of transport. It was not always easy: wheels broke as they traversed rocky land, and difficulties occurred as they crossed rivers and climbed mountains. Today, motorists can cross the same distance in cars using smooth highways and roads that have been carved into the landscape.

Would you have ventures out in these wagons?

(This post was inspired by Jake’s prompt: Transport)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

Other posts I have written on the Voortrekker Monument:

The Voortrekker Monument

A Unique Monument

Looking from above

A Unique Monument

The Voortrekker Monument in South Africa is a unique building that was built as a reminder of the experiences of the early voortrekkers (pioneers) who left the safety of the Cape colony for the unknown lands of the interior between 1835 and 1854.

The Voortrekker Monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
The Voortrekker Monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Looking like a huge cube, this monument is 40 meters high with a base that is 40m x 40m. It does not look like a regular square though, as pictures have been carved into the stone and statues adorn each corner.

A statue on a corner of the monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
A statue on a corner of the monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Another unique feature of this monument is the historical frieze that adorns the four walls – a frieze that is made entirely in marble.

The Voortrekkers preparing to leave the Cape colony. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012
The Voortrekkers preparing to leave the Cape colony. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

To see more photos of this monument, you are welcome to visit a previous post: The Voortrekker Monument.

What unique buildings have you seen?

(This post was inspired by Jake’s prompt: unique)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The Voortrekker Monument

On my last trip to South Africa, I took my children to a monument I had last seen when I was a little older than them: the Voortrekker Monument found just outside of Pretoria. It was just as I had remembered; but as an adult I was more impressed by the architecture than I had been as a pre-adolescent.

In front of the Voortrekker Monument, and the first flight of stairs I climbed to get to the top. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

The building was designed by Gerard Moerdijk as a reminder of the experiences of the early voortrekkers (pioneers) who left the safety of the Cape colony for the unknown lands of the interior between 1835 and 1854. This unusual building was completed and inaugurated by D.F.Malan, the then South African president, on 16 December 1949. The date for the inauguration was chosen as December 16 was the Day of Covenant: a day that used to commemorate the day on which the Afrikaner triumphed over the Zulu in the Battle of the Blood River.

The Voortrekker Monument seen up close. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

The Voortrekker Monument looks like a huge cube. It is 40 meters high and its base is 40m x 40m. It does not look like a regular square, though, as pictures have been carved into the stone, and statues adorn each corner. The statues are of the leaders of the early Voortrekkers: Piet Retief, Andries Pretorius, Hendrik Potgieter, and an unknown leader who represents all other Voortrekker leaders.

A statue of a voortrekker leader on a corner of the monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

The monument has four huge arched windows, one on each face of the cube-like building, made from Belgian glass. I liked the way the sunlight filtered through the windows to light up the interior of the building.

Sun filtering through stone windows of the Voortrekker Monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

To reach the dome of the building, we had to climb many stairways. Recently an elevator has been installed for those unable to  climb the steep and narrow stairs.

A stairwell leading to the monument’s dome. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

From the top landing we could see the ground floor as well as the cenotaph in the basement.

Sunlight lightens the interior of the building as seen from the top of the monument. From this view you can also see the Cenotaph. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

The Cenotaph, which can be found in the basement, is the focus of the building (it can be seen from different points in the monument). This stone is the symbolic resting place of Piet Retief and his men; and serves to remind the world and the descendants that the voortrekkers made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for their ideals and freedom. On December the 16th at 12 noon, a ray of sunlight shines through the opening of the dome onto the cenotaph, lighting up the words “Ons vir jou, Suid Afrika” (We for thee, South Africa). The ray of light is believed to be a symbol of God’s blessing on the lives and aspirations of the voortrekkers.

The Cenotaph found in the Voortrekker Monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

The historical marble frieze which is placed on the four walls of the building distinguishes the Voortrekker Monument from other monuments. Consisting of 27 bas-relief panels, it is the biggest marble frieze in the world. The panels depict scenes of everyday life and work of the voortrekkers, their religious beliefs, and the story of The Great Trek.

The Voortrekkers preparing to leave the Cape colony. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

The scenes begin with the start of the journey from the Cape colony, show the trials they faced while travelling, and depict the fighting between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus. The signing of the Sand River Convention in 1852 is shown in the last panel .

Fighting between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

One panel shows the signing of the treaty between the Voortrekkers and Dingaan, the leader of the Zulus.

Piet Retief and Dingaan signing a peace treaty. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

The turning of the Zulus against the Voortrekkers in their own laager is depicted; as well as the historic consequent battle between the Zulus and the Afrikaners in the Battle of the Blood River. The battle was so named because with the death of so many people the water in the river turned red.

The Battle of the Blood River. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

The outside of the monument was as cleverly designed as the interior. From outside on the top of the monument you can see the wall that surrounds the monument. Wagons have been carved into the stone and they symbolise the laager that the voortrekkers used when they set up camp. These laagers were placed in a circle to protect themselves from wild animals and from the African tribes living in the interior.

Wagons carved into stone of exterior wall. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

From the balcony outside the dome, one also has a view of the city, Pretoria.

A hazy view of Pretoria. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Walking along the exterior wall, you can clearly see how the wagons have been carved into the stone of the wall.

The exterior wall of the Voortrekker Monument. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Gardens of indigenous plants abound on the outside of the exterior wall – a perfect place for a picnic lunch!

In the gardens with the monument in the background. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

I enjoyed my visit to the Voortrekker Monument and was surprised by how much history I had remembered from my school days. We ended our visit with a picnic lunch in the gardens listening to the sound of the trees and birds.

Would you take a trip to see this monument?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012