A mudhīf is a traditional reed house made by the Madan people (also known as Marsh Arabs) in the swamps of southern Iraq. In the traditional Madan way of living, houses are constructed from reeds harvested from the marshes where they live. A mudhif is a large communal house, paid for and maintained by a local sheik, for use by guests or as a gathering place for weddings, funerals, etc.
The buildings are constructed with bundled and woven reeds. Larger and thicker reeds are bundled into columns and then bent across and tied to form arches. These arches are strengthened by the prestressing of the columns, as they are initially inserted into the soil at opposing angles. A series of arches define the buildings form. Long cross beams of smaller bundled reeds are laid across the arches and tied. Woven mats of reeds form the building envelope. Some of the mats are woven with perforations like a mesh to allow light and ventilation. The front and back walls are attached to two large vertical bundled reed columns and are also made from woven mats.
- Mudhif under construction and the Marsh Arabs
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