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The Art ofA Resource for EducatorsAFRICATHE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ARTThese educational materials are made possible by Mr. and Mrs. Marvin H. Schein.Christa Clarke
Copyright 2006 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Written by Christa Clarke Lesson plans by Rebecca Arkenberg Senior Managing Editor: Merantine Hens Senior Publishing and Creative Manager: Masha Turchinsky Production Manager: Alice Dow Walker Design by Lisa S. Park Design Color separations and printing by Galvanic Printing & Plate Co., Inc., Moonachie, New Jersey Photographs of works in the Museums collections are by the Photograph Studio of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fig. 1 by Frederick Lamp, 1990; g. 2 by Susan Vogel, 1997; g. 3. by Herbert Cole, 1974; g. 4 by Paul Gebauer, The Photograph Study Collection, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Paul Gebauer, 1977 (PSC 1977.1.60); g. 5 photograph by Hans Gehne, ca. 1913, published in Karl Zimmermann, Die Grenzgebiete Kameruns im Suden u dim Osten (2 vol.), Nutteilungen aus den Deutschen Schutzgebieten 9a and 9b, Berlin, 1914; EEPA Study Collection (I 3 Fang); Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution; g. 6 photography by P. A., c. 1900, postcard, collotype, publisher unknown, c.1905; EEPA Postcard Collection, CF 18-1; Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution; g. 7 photograph by Eliot Elisofon, 1951, Image no. EEPA EECL 4373; Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution; g. 8 by Patricia Darish, 1981; g. 9 by Casimir dOstoja Zagourski (1880 1941), The Photograph Study Collection, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (PSC 1990.3.55); g. 10 by John B. Kramer, 1971, courtesy of South African Museum, Capetown, South Africa; g. 11 by Stephen Brayne, courtesy of Marla Berns, 1995. Map by Anandaroop Roy Binder, front : image 5, Male and Female Antelope Headdresses ( Ci wara kun ). Back : image 38, Textile Mantle (detail). Box, front : image 21, Pendant Mask. Back : image 38, Textile Mantle (detail). Spine : image 9, Lidded Saltcellar ISBN 1-58839-190-6 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) ISBN 0-300-12312-4 (Yale University Press) Cataloging-in-publication data is available from the Library of Congress.
ForewordThe Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates artistic creativity from across the globe and from all times. Thus, our distinguished collection of African Art has special signi cance both because of its aesthetic excellence and because our strong collections in all artistic traditions complement one another so profoundly. We therefore take the greatest pleasure in putting forward this publication, The Art of Africa: A Resource for Educators Christa Clark, Curator of Africa, the Americas, and the Paci c at the Newark Museum, Alisa LaGamma, Curator of African Art at the Metropolitan Museum, and the Museums Education staff have worked together to select and shape the content to be especially useful to teachers and students. We also thank with special gratitude Mr. and Mrs. Marvin H. Schein for making this effort possible. We know that the educational value of this material will be realized in classrooms throughout New York and across the world for many years to come. Philippe de Montebello Director Kent Lydecker Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Associate Director for Education Julie Jones Curator in Charge Department of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
AcknowledgmentsMany colleagues participated in the development of this publication. We were fortunate to work with Christa Clarke, Curator of Africa, the Americas, and the Paci c at the Newark Museum, who we commend for writing such a clear and informative text. Heartfelt gratitude and thanks go to the staff of the Metropolitan Museums Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas under the guidance of Julie Jones, Curator in Charge. Alisa LaGamma, Curator of African Art, provided invaluable expertise and advice in the development of this project for which we are truly grateful. Virgina Lee-Webb and Ross Day were generous with their assistance. Timely, indispensable help also came from Yaelle Biro, Justin Marquis, Laura Melnyczenko, and Hillit Zwick. Invaluable support and insight came from Metropolitan Museum educators and colleagues who helped shape this publication to meet the particular needs of teachers: William Crow, Deborah Howes, Catherine Fukushima, Kent Lydecker, Nicholas Ruocco, Edith Watts, Randolph Williams, and Barbara Woods. Karen Ohland and John Welch offered support and guidance. Christina Park researched comparative images. Rebecca Arkenberg wrote the lesson plans with help from Edith Watts. Emily Roth, Naomi Niles, and Vivian Wick compiled the list of selected resources. Catherine Fukushima shepherded the project in the early stages together with Merantine Hens, who coordinated the many steps of editing throughout. Masha Turchinsky directed the design and managed production overall. Alice Dow Walker coordinated the various culminating aspects of production. Many thanks to Paul Caro and Jackie Neale-Chadwick for their imaging expertise and to Kevin Park for printing supervision. Thanks to Teresa Russo for her help on the CD-ROM and to Jessica Glass and Marla Mitchnick for their assistance in preparing the DVD. Educational Media interns Emily Nemens and Scott Niichel provided welcome help. As always, we greatly appreciate the continued support of Christine Scornavacca Coulson and the Development staff. We also extend our thanks to Barbara Bridgers, Einar Brendalen, Thomas Ling, and Karin Willis of the Museums Photograph Studio. Philomena Mariani edited the manuscript with care and speed. Special thanks to Lisa S. Park for the handsome design of this publication.
Overview of the CollectionThe African art collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrated as one of the most important housed in an art museum. Its history begins in the 1940s when Nelson Rockefeller undertook the project of amassing an extensive collection of African, Oceanic, and Precolumbian art. At the time, Rockefeller was president of the Museum of Modern Art and his interest in these elds derived from their historic in uence on the Western avant-garde. MoMAs sponsorship of a series of landmark exhibitions of non-Western art beginning in 1935 and Rockefellers close friendship with its director, Ren dHarnoncourt, ultimately led to Rockefellers founding in 1954 of the Museum of Primitive Art, a pioneering private institution located across the street from MoMA. Art historian Robert Goldwater served as the MPAs director, advising Rockefeller on acquisitions and developing an in uential exhibition program. In 1969 Rockefeller signed an agreement transferring the MPA to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to be housed within a new wing. Included in this gift were 3,300 works of art, a specialized library, and a photographic archive. Named for Nelson Rockefellers son, who collected many of the Asmat works from Irian Jaya, western New Guinea, The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing was opened to the public in 1978. This addition made an essential contribution to the encyclopedic nature of the Metropolitans collections. Since that time, the collection has continued to grow through acquisitions and gifts to include more than 11,000 works from Africa, the Paci c Islands, and North, Central, and South America. Two major additions to the African component of the Metropolitans collection, each comprising more than 100 works, are a series of Dogon objects from Mali given by Lester Wunderman between 1978 and 1987 and a collection of artworks from the court of Benin in Nigeria given by Klaus Perls in 1991. From its beginnings, the Metropolitans African collection was conceived as a ne arts collection focused on artistic traditions from Africa south of the Sahara. While it originally emphasized sculptural traditions from western and central Africa, over the last several decades the collection has come to embrace expressive traditions in other media such as textiles as well as those of eastern and southern Africa. Alisa LaGamma Curator Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Contents Goals and Design of this Resource
ContentsGoals and Design of this Resource 9 Map of Africa 11 Introduction to Africa 13 Geography 13 Peoples and Cultures 14 History 15 The Role of Visual Expression in Africa 21 Aesthetics 21 The Human Figure 21 Animals and the Natural World 22 Other Forms of Symbolism 22 Abstraction and Idealization 23 Surface 23 Form and Meaning 23 Religion and the Spiritual Realm 24 Art and Politics 26 Rites of Passage 27 Art and the Individual 28 Western Appreciation of African Art 29 Artists and Patronage 31 Artists in Africa 31 Patronage 32 Materials and Techniques 34 Wood 34 Ivory 35 Stone 35 Metal 36 Clay 36 Fiber 37 Painting 38 Other Materials and Media 38 Introduction to the Visual Materials 39 Quick List of the Works of Art 41 Descriptions of the Works of Art 44 Classroom Applications 175 Animals in African Art 175 The Power Behind the Throne 179 The Human Figure and Abstraction 183 African Art: Materials and Techniques 185 Art and the Cycles of Life 189 Masks and Headdresses 193 Comparisons for Classroom Discussion 195 Glossary 203 Pronunciation Guide 207 Introduction to the Video 209 Selected Resources for Further Information 211 Resources for Students 212 Videography 213 Videos for Children 213 Websites 214 Authors Bibliography 215
9Goals and Design of this ResourceWorks of art communicate vital and important aspects of the cultures in which they were created. By studying art from Africa, students come to understand the central role it plays in the customs, belief systems, social organizations, and political systems of African societies. This publication presents African art and culture through a focus on primarily traditional sculpture, textiles, metalwork, and ceramics in the African art collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Educators and their students can study these works of art solely in the classroom or, ideally, in preparation for a visit to the Metropolitan or to their local museum. In these pages, we provide background information for educators about African culture and history as well as detailed information about selected works of art. Teachers may adapt the content to the interests, skills, and abilities of their students and may use suggested interdisciplinary connections to social studies, language arts, and studio arts curricula. This resource is organized so that a teacher can incorporate study of the artworks into a single lesson, a series of lessons, or an entire unit of study. It begins with a map and an introduction to Africa : the continents geography, peoples and cultures, and history. The next section discusses the role of visual expression in Africa covering important topics such as aesthetics and styles, the roles of artists and patrons, and materials and techniques. Forty works of art in the Museums collection are described in detail, accompanied by suggested discussion questions to encourage students to look closely at, analyze, and interpret the art. The classroom applications section includes lesson plans based on thematic groupings of the artworks and activities that will help the teacher create a focused unit of study around some of the key concepts associated with African art. Comparisons for classroom discussion present selected pairs of artworks with questions, offering an opportunity for further discussion that will help students discern the distinctive features of each work. (These pairs are also available on the enclosed CD for projection in the classroom.) A glossary provides de nitions of words that are bolded on rst mention in the text. A pronunciation guide offers approximate pronunciations for selected African words and names mentioned in this resource. An introduction to the video provides background information that will be useful prior to viewing footage of performers dancing headdresses similar to some of those included in this publication. The selected resources section contains bibliographies, online resources (the Museums Timeline of Art History is particularly useful), and a videography. These will be helpful in gathering the additional information teachers may need to make an exploration of African art stimulating and relevant to their curriculum.
10Goals for StudentsTo become familiar with the variety of visual expression in the traditional art of sub-Saharan Africa. To understand how African artists use abstraction, idealization, and expressive exaggeration. To understand that African art plays a central role in: Mediating between the world of the living and the spirit world Expressing community ideals De ning power and leadership Protecting and healing Celebrating and commemorating cycles of life, both human and agricultural To become comfortable talking about art. As students describe what they see and share interpretations about the meanings of works of art, they will develop language and critical thinking skills.
Map Introduction to African Art
13Introduction to AfricaToday, Africa is considered to be the cradle of human ancestry, from which we may all trace our descent. Based on the evidence to date, most scientists concur that humankind evolved and modern humans emerged on the African continent. Recent discoveries of cultural artifact s dating back 70,000 years also suggest that the earliest forms of visual expression may be found in Africa. For many thousands of years, Africans have contributed to the cultural heritage of the world, creating masterful works of astonishing innovation and creativity. Africas rich artistic legacy is the subject of this publication, which is based on the superb African art collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitans Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas historically has focused on the ne arts traditions of sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of works in the collection relate to historical traditions from western and central Africa, regions with the highest concentration of gurative sculpture. In recent years, the scope of the collection has expanded to embrace works from eastern and southern Africa. Artworks from the African continent are represented in other collections within the Metropolitan, most notably the Department of Egyptian Art, but also the Islamic Art, Contemporary Art, and Photographs departments. The ancient arts of Egypt are not included in this resource because they are the subject of another Metropolitan resource for educators. Finally, while there have been important developments in modern and contemporary African art since the mid-twentieth century, this publication focuses on tradition-based genres of African art.GeographyAfrica is the second largest continent, after Asia, in terms of both size and population. Contemporary Africa is comprised of fty-four different nations, whose borders re ect the legacy of the continents division under colonialism. Africa is further characterized and de ned by great geographic and ecological diversity. To the north and south are large deserts, while on the western coast, a broad swath of rainforest straddles either side of the equator. The majority of the continent, however, consists of savannah grasslands. The three great rivers that run through different parts of the continentthe Nile, the Niger, and the Zairehave always been important means of contact and exchange within Africa. Overseas communication and trade, however, were limited historically due to a scarcity of safe harbors along Africas relatively smooth coastline and the dif culties of travel in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Sahara, the worlds largest desert, has long served as a natural division between the northern part of the continent and the lands lying below. Once fertile land, the Sahara region suffered from severe drought and became a desert Image 5
14 sometime around 2000 B.C. As a result, northern Africa had greater contact with the Mediterranean world than sub-Saharan Africa and was also introduced earlier to Christianity and Islam. The traditions of northern Africa have therefore been regarded as distinct from those of sub-Saharan Africa and historically excluded from discussions of African art. Scholars today, however, recognize that sub-Saharan Africa was not as isolated as once widely thought and that transSaharan trade, from at least the fth century onward, ensured continuous cultural interaction and exchange.Peoples and CulturesToday, over 680 million people live in Africa. Although some regions remain sparsely inhabited, others are densely populated. The West African nation of Nigeria, for example, has one- fth of the entire continents population. About a third of all Africans live in large cities such as Lagos (Nigeria), the continents most populous city with 13.5 million people. Other major urban centers in contemporary Africa include Cairo (Egypt), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Abidjan (Cte dIvoire), Dakar (Senegal), and Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pretoria (South Africa). The majority of Africans, however, live in more rural areas where their lifestyle centers on agricultural activities. In those parts of the continent that are not heavily urbanized, Africas geography and climate have especially impacted the development of different artistic traditions. In agricultural communities, seasonal patterns of rainfall and drought affect cultivation and, by extension, their cultural practices. An alternation between rainy and dry seasons is seen throughout much of Africa, in varying degrees. Dry seasons allow opportunities for part-time artisans to create artifacts and for people to organize festivals and other large-scale social events that employ such art forms. Certain areas, such as southwestern Africa and parts of eastern Africas interior, also had (and continue to have) frequent droughts. This has forced populations to migrate often or adopt a nomadic lifestyle. As a result, their artistic expression has focused on relatively ephemeral and personal traditions such as body ornamentation, rather than larger scale wooden sculpture. Throughout the continent, there is found a diversity of societies, languages, and culture s. It is estimated that there are well over 1,000 distinct languages in Africa, making it the most linguistically varied of all the continents. In Nigeria alone, more than 250 different languages are spoken. Important regional languages, spoken over broad geographic areas by people of varied ethnicity, include Arabic in northern Africa, Swahili in eastern Africa, and Hausa and Mandinka in parts of western Africa. English, French, and Portuguese were introduced during the colonial period and remain in wide usage today. Culturally, Africans de ne themselves in many different ways: by occupational caste, village, kinship group, regional origin, and nationality. Peoples or cultures are the preferred terms when referring to ethnic identities; tribea Image 23
15 word sometimes applied to African peoples or societiesis an inappropriate, even inaccurate term, and should be avoided. Based on a concept developed by nineteenth-century Western social theorists, tribe was used to describe a group of people sharing a common language, history, geographic region, and sociopolitical organization. In reality, ethnicity and social identity are much more complex, as Africans may identify themselves in multiple ways. For example, an individual may be simultaneously Nigerian, a resident of the Delta State, Ijo (a broad ethnic designation), and Kalabari (an eastern subgroup of the Ijo). Furthermore, the term tribe re ects misleading historical and cultural assumptions, as it often implies a kind of cultural backwardness with derogatory associations.HistoryHumankinds origins and the beginnings of cultural expression may be traced to Africa. Recent discoveries in the southern tip of Africa provide remarkable evidence of the earliest stirrings of human creativity. Ocher plaques with engraved designs, made some 70,000 years ago, represent some of humankinds earliest attempts at visual expression. Although much remains to be learned about Africas ancient civilization s through further archaeological research, such discoveries suggest tantalizing possibilities for rich insights into human as well as artistic evolution. Rock paintings depicting domesticated animals provide artistic evidence of the existence of agricultural communities that developed in both the Sahara region and southern Africa by around 7000 B.C. As the Sahara began to dry up, sometime before 3000 B.C., these farming communities moved away. In the north, this led to the emergence of art-producing civilizations based along the Nile, the worlds longest river. Egypt, one of the worlds earliest nation-states, was uni ed as a kingdom by 3100 B.C. Further south along the Nile, one of the earliest of the Nubian kingdoms was centered at Kerma in present-day Sudan and dominated trade networks linking central Africa to Egypt for almost one thousand years beginning around 2500 B.C. A corpus of sophisticated terracotta sculptures found over a broad geographic area in present-day Nigeria provides the earliest evidence of a settled community with ironworking technology south of the Sahara. The artistic creations of this culture are referred to as Nok, after the village where the rst terracotta was discovered, and date to 500 B.C. to 200 A.D., a period of time coinciding with ancient Greek civilization. Although Nok terracottas continue to be unearthed, no organized excavations have been undertaken and little is known about the culture that produced these sculptures. Terracotta heads, buried around 500 A.D., have also been found in the eastern Transvaal region of South Africa. These important ancient artistic traditions are underrepresented in Western museums today, including the Metropolitan, due to restrictions regarding the export of
16 archaeological materials. However, examples of these terracotta traditions may be seen in the Timeline of Art History on the Metropolitan Museums website (www. metmuseum.org/toah). The rst millennium A.D. witnessed the urbanization of a number of societies just south of the Sahara, in the broad stretch of savanna referred to as the western Sudan. The strategic location of the Inland Niger Delta, lying in a fertile region between the Bani and Niger rivers, contributed to its emergence as an economic and cultural force in the area. Excavations there at the site of Jennejeno (Old Jenne, also known as Djenne-jeno) suggest the presence of an urban center populated as early as 2,000 years ago. The city continued to thrive for many centuries, becoming an important crossroads of a trans-Saharan trading network. Terracotta gures and fragments unearthed in the region reveal the rich sculptural heritage of a sophisticated urban culture (image 1). By the ninth century, trade across the Sahara had intensi ed, contributing to the rise of large state societies with diverse cultural traditions along trade routes in the western Sudan as well as introducing Islam into the region. Initially traversed by camel caravans beginning around the fth century, established transSaharan trade routes ensured the lucrative exchange of gold mined in southern West Africa and salt from the Sahara, as well as other goods. Ghana, one of the earliest known kingdoms in this region, grew powerful by the eighth century through its monopoly over gold mines until its eventual demise in the twelfth century. The present-day nation of Ghana takes its name from this ancient empire, although there is no historical or geographic connection. In the early thirteenth century, the kingdom of Mali ascended under the leadership of Sundiata Keita, who is still revered as a culture hero in the Mande-speaking world. At its height, this Islamic empire, which ourished until the seventeenth century, encompassed an area larger than western Europe and established Africas rst university in Timbuktu. Under the Songhai empire of the fteenth and sixteenth centuries, one of the largest in Africa, the cities of Timbuktu and Jenne (also known as Djenne) prospered as major centers of Islamic learning. Beyond the kingdoms of the western Sudan, other centers of cultural and artistic activity emerged elsewhere in western Africa. The art of metalworking ourished as early as the ninth century at a site called Igbo-Ukwu, in what is now southern Nigeria. Hundreds of intricate copper alloy castings discovered there provide artistic evidence of a sophisticated and technically accomplished culture. Nearby to the west, the ancient site of Ife, considered the cradle of Yoruba civilization, emerged as a major metropolis by the eleventh century. Artists working for the royal court in Ife produced a large and diverse corpus of masterful work, including magni cent bronze and terracotta sculptures renowned for their portraitlike naturalism. The rich artistic traditions of the Yoruba continue to thrive in the present day (images 18, 19). The neighboring kingdom of Benin, which traces its origins to Ife, established its present dynasty in the fourteenth century. Over the next 500 years, specialist artisans working for the Benin king created Image 1 Image 18
17 several thousand works, mostly made of luxury materials such as ivory and brass, that offer insights into life at the royal court (images 20 22). Other state societies emerged in the eastern and southern parts of the continent. The Aksum empire (also known as Axum), one of the earliest Christian states in Africa, ourished from the rst century A.D. into the eleventh century, producing remarkable stone palaces and enormous granite funerary monoliths. Christian faith inspired the artistic creations of later dynasties, including the extraordinary churches of Lalibela hewn from solid rock in the thirteenth century, and the illuminated manuscripts and other liturgical arts of the later Solomonic era (image 37). Notable among the kingdoms that emerged in southern Africa is Mapungubwe in present-day Zimbabwe, a strati ed society that arose in the eleventh century and grew wealthy through trade with Muslim merchants along the eastern African coast. Just to the north are the remains of an ancient city known as Great Zimbabwe, considered one of the oldest and largest architectural structures in sub-Saharan Africa. This massive complex of stone buildings, spread over 1,800 acres, was constructed over 300 years beginning in the eleventh century. In the fteenth century, the age of exploration ushered in a period of sustained engagement between Europe and Africa. The Portuguese, and later the Dutch and English, began trade with cities along the western coast of Africa around 1450. They returned from Africa with favorable accounts of powerful kingdoms as well as examples of African artistry commissioned from local sculptors (image 9). These exquisitely carved ivory artifacts, now known as the Afro-Portuguese ivories, were brought back from early visits to the continent and became part of the curiosity cabinets of the Renaissance nobles who sponsored exploration and trade. Through trade, African artists were also introduced to new materials, forms, and ideas. Although historically glass and shell beads were made indigenously, trade with Europe in the sixteenth century introduced large quantities of manufactured glass beads that became widely used throughout Africa (images 26, 36). European imports of copper and coral made these luxury materials more plentiful, and artists used them in greater quantities (image 20). Artifacts of European manufacture, such as canes and chairs, served as prototypes for the development of new prestige items for regional leaders (images 14, 31). Along with goods imported from Europe, the travelers also brought with them their systems of belief, including Christianity. In some cases, such as in the central African kingdom of Kongo, Christianity was embraced and its iconography integrated into the artistic repertoire (image 28). In other parts of Africa, the foreign traders themselves were sometimes represented in artworks (image 21). Western trade with Africa was not limited to material goods such as copper, cloth, and beads. By the sixteenth century, the transatlantic slave trade had already begun, forcibly bringing Africans to the newly discovered Americas. Slavery had existed in Africa (as it did elsewhere in the world) for centuries prior Image 9 Image 28
18 to the sixteenth, and many socially strati ed African societies kept slaves for domestic work. The sheer number of slaves traded across the Atlantic, however, was unprecedented, as over 11 million Africans were brought to the Americas and the Caribbean over a period of four centuries. Driven by commercial interests, the slave trade peaked in the eighteenth century with the expansion of American plantation production, and continued until the mid-nineteenth century. While Europeans primarily pro ted from the slave trade, certain West African kingdoms, like Dahomey, also grew wealthy and powerful by selling captives of war. By the late eighteenth century, the slave trade began to wane as the abolitionist movement grew. Those who survived the forced migration and the notorious Middle Passage brought their beliefs and cultural practices to the New World. Within this far- ung diaspora, certain culturessuch as the Yoruba and Igbo of todays Nigeria, and the Kongo from present-day Democratic Republic of Congowere especially well represented. African slaves brought few, if any, personal items with them, although recent archaeological investigations have yielded early African artifacts, like the beads and shells found at the African burial grounds in New Yorks lower Manhattan, which date to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The in uence of Africans in the Americas is perhaps best seen in diverse forms of cultural expression that have enriched our society tremendously. Architectural elements such as open-front porches and sloped hip-roofs re ect African in uence in the Americas. The religious practices of Haitian Vodou have roots in the spiritual beliefs of Dahomean, Yoruba, and Kongo peoples. Some elements of cuisine in the American South, such as gumbo and jambalaya, derive from African food traditions. Certain musical forms, such as jazz and the blues, re ect the convergence of African musical practices and European-based traditions. Although the slave trade was banned entirely by the late nineteenth century, European involvement in Africa did not end. Instead, the desire for greater control over Africas resources resulted in the colonization of the majority of the continent by seven European countries. The Berlin Conference of 1884 85, attended by representatives of fourteen different European powers, resulted in the regulation of European colonization and trade in Africa. Over the next twenty years, the continent was occupied by France, Belgium, Germany, Britain, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. By 1914, the entire continent, with the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia, was colonized by European nations. The colonial period in Africa brought radical changes, disrupting local political institutions, patterns of trade, and religious and social beliefs. The colonial era also impacted cultural practices in Africa, as artists responded to new forms of patronage and the introduction of new technologies as well as to their changing social and political situations. In some cases, European patronage of local artists resulted in stylistic change (image 35) or new forms of expression. At the same time, many artistic traditions were characterized as primitive by Westerners and discouraged or even banned. Image 35
19 AlthoughAfricanartifactswerebroughttoEuropeasearlyasthesixteenth century,itwasduringthecolonialperiodthatsuchworksenteredWestern collectionsinsignicantquantities,formingthebasisofmanymuseum collectionstoday.Africanartifactswerecollectedaspersonalsouvenirs orethnographicspecimensbymilitaryofcers,colonialadministrators, missionaries,scientists,merchants,andothervisitorstothecontinent.In manyoftheseinstancesofcollecting,objectsweregatheredthroughvoluntary trade.Inoneextremeinstance,anactofwarinitiatedbyBritainagainstoneof itscolonies,thousandsofroyalartobjectswereremovedfromthekingdomof BeninfollowingitsdefeatbyaBritishmilitaryexpeditionin1897(images20 22). EuropeannationswithcoloniesinAfricaestablishedethnographicmuseumswith extensivecollections,suchastheRoyalMuseumforCentralAfricainTervuren, Belgium,theVlkerkundemuseumsinGermany,theBritishMuseuminLondon, andtheMusedelHommeinParis(nowhousedattheMuseduQuaiBranly). IntheUnitedStates,whichhadnocolonialtiestoAfrica,thenascentstudyof ethnographymotivatedtheformationofcollectionsattheAmericanMuseum ofNaturalHistoryinNewYorkandtheFieldMuseuminChicago.In1923,the BrooklynMuseumbecametherstAmericanmuseumtopresentAfricanworks asart. IndependencemovementsinAfricabeganwiththeliberationofGhanain 1957andendedwiththedismantlingofapartheidinSouthAfricaduringthe 1990s.Thepostcolonialperiodhasbeenchallenging,asmanycountriesstruggle toregainstabilityintheaftermathofcolonialism.Yetwhilethemediaoften focusesonpoliticalinstability,civilunrest,andeconomicandhealthcrises,these representonlypartofthestoryofAfricatoday.Fromitsmanyurbancentersto moretradition-basedruralvillages,Africaisincreasinglyenteringtheglobal marketplace.Theproliferationofsystemsofcommunication,suchascomputers andcellphones,throughoutAfricahasfacilitatedincreasedinteractionwithother partsoftheworld.AsAfricamovesintothetwenty-rstcentury,hopeliesinits naturalandhumanresourcesandthecommitmentofmanyAfricanstowork towardastableandprosperousfuture. InspiteofAfricaspolitical,economic,andenvironmentalchallenges,the postcolonialperiodhasbeenatimeoftremendousvigorintherealmofartistic production.Manytradition-basedartisticpracticescontinuetothriveorhave beenrevitalized.InGuinea,therevivalofDmbaperformancesinthe1990s, afterdecadesofcensorshipbytheMarxistgovernment,isoneexampleof culturalreinvention(image10).Similarly,inrecentyears,Merinaweaversinthe highlandsofMadagascarhavebeguntocreatebrilliantlyhuedsilkclothknownas akotofahana ,atextiletraditionabandonedacenturyago(image38).Photography, introducedonthecontinentinthelatenineteenthcentury,hasbecomeapopular medium,particularlyinurbanareas.ArtistslikeSeydouKeta,whooperateda portraitstudioinBamako,Mali,inthecolonialperiod,setthestageforlater generationsofphotographerswhocapturedthefacesofnewlyindependent Africancountries(image39). Image 22 Image 38
20 It is also important to mention developments in modern and contemporary African art, although these forms of African visual expression are not the focus of this publication. During the colonial period, art schools were established that provided training, often based on Western models, to local artists. Many schools were initiated by Europeans, such as the Congolese Acadmie des Arts, established by Pierre Romain-Desfoss in 1944 in Elisabethville, whose program was based on those of art schools in Europe. Less frequently, the teaching of modern art was initiated by indigenous Africans, such as Chief Aina Onabolu, who is credited with introducing modern art in Nigeria beginning in the 1920s. Since the mid-twentieth century, increasing numbers of African artists have engaged local traditions in new ways or embraced a national identity through their visual expression. Artists in todays Africa are the products of diverse forms of artistic training, work in a variety of mediums, and engage local as well as global audiences with their work. In recent decades, contemporary artists from Africa, both self-taught and academically trained, have begun to receive international recognition. Many artists from Africa study, work, and/or live in Europe and the United States. Kenyan-born Magdalene Odundo, for example, was trained as an artist in schools in Kenya and in England, where she now lives. The burnished ceramic vessels she creates, which are purely artistic and not functional, embody her diverse sources, including traditional Nigerian and Kenyan vessels as well as Native American pottery traditions of New Mexico (image 40). The work of contemporary African artists like Odundo reveals the complex realities of artistic practice in todays increasingly global society. Image 40
21The Role of Visual Expression in AfricaBecause many tradition-based African artifacts serve a speci c function, Westerners sometimes have not regarded them as art. We need to recognize, however, that the concept of art for arts sake is a relatively recent invention of the Western world. Prior to the Renaissance, most art traditions around the world were considered functional as well as aesthetic. The objects African artists create, while useful, also embody aesthetic preferences and may be admired for their form and composition.AestheticsArtists and patrons in many African societies express well-de ned aesthetic preferences and value skillful work. Studies of aesthetics in some African societies have led to the identi cation of certain artistic criteria for evaluating visual arts. Among the Baule in Cte dIvoire, for example, a sculpture of the human gure should emphasize a strong muscular body, re ned facial features, and elaborate hairstyle and scari cation patterns, all of which re ect cultural ideals of civilized beauty (image 13). Scholars of aesthetics in Yoruba (Nigeria) visual expression have identi ed criteria based on both formal elements, such as a smooth surface, symmetrical composition, and a moderate resemblance to the subject, as well as abstract cultural concepts, such as ase (inner power or life force) and iwa (character or essential nature). Many African societies associate such smooth, nished surfaces with cultivated re nement. African aesthetics generally have an ethical or religious basis. An artwork considered beautiful is often also believed to be good, in the sense that it exempli es and upholds moral values. The fact that, in many societies, the words for beautiful and good are the same suggests a strong correspondence between these two ideas. The ability of an artifact to work effectively, whether that means connecting with the spiritual realm or imparting a lesson to initiates, may also be a standard for determining the beauty of an artifact. Although in the Western world, aesthetics is often equated with beauty, artists in some African cultures create works that are not intended to be beautiful. Such works are deliberately horri c in order to convey their fearsome powers and thereby elicit a strong reaction in the viewer (images 6, 23).The Human FigureThe human gure is the main subject that traditionally has engaged African artists. African gurative sculpture usually departs from natural proportions. There is often a conceptual basis behind artistic conventions such as the simpli cation and exaggeration of the human features. For example, in many Image 13
22 African artworks, the head appears proportionately larger than the body. This formal emphasis has symbolic meaning, as the head is believed to have a special role in guiding ones destiny and success in many African societies. African artists also employ scale for symbolic effect in multi gure compositions, a practice known as hierarchical representation. In these cases, the most important individual is depicted as the largest gure, while those of lesser importance decrease in size exponentially (image 22).Animals and the Natural WorldAnimals with special attributessuch as antelopes, snakes, leopards, and crocodilesare represented in art for symbolic purposes. For example, the nineteenth-century Fon king Guezo is represented by a buffalo, an animal signifying strength and determination, selected as his emblem through fa divination (image 16). Representations of animals consuming other animals may serve as a metaphor for competing spiritual or social forces (image 19). Their depiction is meant to encourage other, less destructive means to resolve a dif cult social encounter. Features of different types of animals may also be combined into new forms that synthesize complex ideas. Among the Bamana, for example, ci wara headdresses (image 5) are based on the features of various antelope species and may also incorporate those of aardvarks, anteaters, and pangolins, all highly symbolic animals. The resulting synthesis of animal forms evokes the mythic Ci Wara, the divine force conceptualized as half man and half antelope who introduced agricultural methods to the Bamana. Animal symbols may also take more abstract form. In the Cameroon Grass elds, circular medallions represent spiders, a symbol of supernatural wisdom, and diamondshaped motifs refer to frogs, which stand for fertility and increase (image 26). Some forms of symbolism in African art use plants as points of reference. On cast plaques from Benin, a background pattern of river leaves is a symbol for Olokun, god of the sea (image 22).Other Forms of SymbolismSymbols may be nonrepresentational. Geometric patterns on Bwa plank masks have multiple levels of meaning that refer to ideals of social and moral behavior taught to initiates (image 8). Materials also hold symbolic value. Gold foil used in Asante regalia alludes to the sun and to lifes vital force (image 14). Indigenous forms of writing, such as nsibidi used among various cultures in Nigerias Cross River region (image 24), embody multiple levels of symbolic meaning that can be accessed only by the initiated. Gestures, too, are a form of symbolism. In Kongo art, a seated pose illustrates a dictum about balance, composure, and re ection (image 29), while a protruding tongue refers indirectly to the activation of medicines (image 30). Image 26 Image 14
23Abstraction and IdealizationRealism or physical resemblance is generally not the goal of the African artist. Many forms of African art are characterized by their visual abstraction, or departure from representational accuracy. Artists interpret human or animal forms creatively through innovative form and composition. The degree of abstraction can range from idealized naturalism, as in the cast brass heads of Benin kings (image 20), to more simpli ed, geometrically conceived forms, as in the Baga headdress (image 10). The decision to create abstract representations is a conscious one, evidenced by the technical ability of African artists to create naturalistic art, as seen, for example, in the art of Ife, in present-day Nigeria. Idealization is frequently seen in representations of human beings. Individuals are almost always depicted in the prime of life, never in old age or poor health. Culturally accepted standards of moral character and physical beauty are expressed through formal emphasis. Masks used by the womens Sande society, for example, present Mende cultural ideals of female beauty (image 11). Instead of a physical likeness, the artist highlights admired features, such as narrow eyes, a small mouth, carefully braided hair, and a ringed neck. Idealized images often relate to expected social roles and emphasize distinctions between male and female. In Bamana statuary, full breasts and a swelling belly highlight a womans role as nurturer (image 4). At the same time, complementary male and female pairs of gures express the concept of an ideal social unit through matched gestures, stances, and expressions (image 13).SurfaceOnce an artifact leaves its creators hands, its visual appearance may be altered through use in ritual or performance contexts. Repeated handling of an artifact during ceremonies can create a smoothly worn surface, while ritual applications of palm oil may result in a lustrous sheen (image 27). During ceremonies, decorative elements, such as beads, metal jewelry, and fabric, can be added to a work (image 13). Applications of sacri cial substances and organic materials create an encrusted surface that literally and guratively empowers an object (images 6, 17). Masks and gurative sculptures may also be repainted from one season to the next. Bwa masks, for example, are soaked after the harvest and repainted red, white, and black, generally with natural vegetal or mineral pigments but now also with European enamel paints (image 8).Form and MeaningWhile creations by African artists have been admired by Western viewers for their formal power and beauty, it is important to understand these artifacts on their own terms. Many African artworks were (and continue to be) created to serve a social, religious, or political function. In its original setting, an artifact may have Image 10 Image 17
24 different uses and embody a variety of meanings. These uses may change over time. A mask originally created for a particular performance may be used in a different context at a later time. Nwantantay masks, used by the southern Bwa in Burkina Faso, may be performed during burial ceremonies and also for annual renewal rites (image 8). Artworks can also have different meanings for different individuals or groups. A sculpture owned by an elite association holds deeper levels of meaning for its members than for the general public, who may understand only its basic meaning. The painted designs on an Ejagham headdress, for example, represent an indigenous form of writing, the meanings of which are restricted to individuals of the highest status and rank (image 24). Understanding the cultural contexts and symbolic meanings of African art therefore enhances our appreciation of its form.Religion and the Spiritual RealmMost traditional religions in Africa have developed at the local level and are unique to a particular society. Common elements include a belief in a creator god, who is rarely if ever represented in art and directly approached by worshipers. Instead, the supreme deity is petitioned through intermediaries, or lesser spirits. These spirits may be related to the natural world and have control over powerful natural phenomena. For instance, nwantantay masks used by the Bwa of Burkina Faso represent various ying spirits that inhabit the natural world and can offer protection (image 8). These ying spirits are believed to take physical form as insects or water fowl. In Guinea, Baga beliefs describe local water spirits, called Ninigann, associated with both wealth and danger that take symbolic form as snakes (image 9). Nature spirits, appealed to by Baule diviner s in Cte dIvoire for spiritual insights, are conceived of as grotesque beings associated with untamed wilderness (image 13). Other spirits represent founding ancestor s, whose activities are described in stories about the creation of the world and the beginnings of human life and agriculture. The Dogon of Mali recount their genesis story with reference to Nommo, a primordial being who guided an ark with the eight original ancestors from heaven to populate the earth (image 2). Also in Mali, Bamana agricultural ceremonies invoke Ci Wara, the half man and half antelope credited with introducing agriculture to humanity (image 5). The original ancestors in Senufo (Cte dIvoire) belief are represented by a monumental pair of male and female gures exemplifying an ideal social unit (image 7). The category of spirits believed to be most accessible to humans is that of recently deceased ancestors, who can intercede on behalf of the living community. Among the Akan in Ghana, ancestors are commemorated by terracotta sculptures that, when placed in a sacred grove near the cemetery, serve as a focal point for funeral rites and a point of contact with the deceased (image 15). Fang societies Image 24 Image 8
25 preserved the bones of important deceased individuals in bark containers in the belief that their relics held great spiritual power (image 27). In many large states, a living king and leader may be regarded as divine as well. In the kingdom of Benin, in todays Nigeria, the Oba historically was considered semidivine and therefore constituted the political and spiritual focus of the kingdom (images 20, 22). In addition to indigenous religions at a local level, other religions are also practiced throughout Africa. Christianity has existed in Egypt and northern Africa since the second century. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was established in the fourth century by King Ezana, who adopted Christianity as the state religion (image 37). In the late fteenth century, Christianity was introduced into subSaharan Africa by Portuguese explorers and traders. Although most African cultures did not adopt the religion, the Kongo king Afonso Mvemba a Nzinga established Christianity as the state religion in the early sixteenth century (image 28). During the colonial period, Christianity gained converts throughout the continent. Islam came to Egypt after 640, then spread below the Sahara in the eighth and ninth centuries through traders and scholars. On the east coast, Arab and Persian colonizers introduced Islam beginning in the eighth century. Although the acceptance of Islam or Christianity sometimes precluded the practice of traditional religions, in many cases they coexisted or were incorporated into preexisting beliefs. The adoption of Islam and Christianity also led to the abandonment of many earlier forms of artistic expression. Religious practice in Africa centers on a desire to engage the spiritual world in the interests of social stability and well-being. Annual rites of renewal among the Bwa, for example, are designed to seek the continued goodwill of nature spirits (image 8). Political leaders also seek religious guidance to ensure the success of their reign. Fon kings, for example, referenced a divination process known as fa which predicted the nature and character of their reign (image 16). Personal misfortune, such as illness, death, or barrenness, or community crises, including war or drought, are also cause to petition the spirits for guidance and assistance. Art objects are employed as vehicles for spiritual communication in diverse ways. Some are created for use in an altar or shrine and may receive sacri cial offerings. The Dogon of Mali, for example, show gratitude to the ancestors by offering pieces of meat in a monumental container presented to the family altar (image 2). In the kingdom of Benin (Nigeria), cast brass heads commemorating deceased kings are placed on royal ancestral altars, where they serve as a point of contact with the kings royal ancestors (image 20). Other objects are used by diviners to attract and tap into spiritual forces. The dazzling beauty of an expertly carved Baule gure sculpture lures a nature spirit into inhabiting the sculpture, thereby aiding a diviners work (image 13). Such objects themselves are often not inherently powerful but must be activated through ritual offerings or by a knowledgeable religious specialist. Fon diviners empower gurative sculptures called bocio with organic substances that ensure Image 37 Image 2
26 their clients health and well-being (image 17). Similarly, Kongo ritual objects known as nkisi derive their potency from various substances, both organic and man-made, added to a carved gure by a ritual specialist (image 30). The unseen forces of nature or the spiritual world are called upon to serve a variety of purposes, including communicating with the spirits, honoring ancestors, healing sickness, or reinforcing societal standards, through masked performances. Masquerade s involve the active participation of dancers, musicians, and even the audience, in addition to the masked dancer, who serves as the vehicle through which these invisible powers become manifest. By donning a mask and its associated costume, the dancer transcends his own identity and is transformed into a powerful spiritual being. Among the Dogon, masks are worn at dama a collective funerary rite for men whose goal is to ensure safe passage of the deceaseds spirit to the world of the ancestors (image 3). Masked performances by members of the Bamana Komo association convey knowledge of their history, beliefs, and rituals to initiated members (image 6). The massive sculpted headdress known as Dmba among the Baga is seen as a symbol of cultural reinvention and appears on various occasions marking personal and communal growth (image 10). Among the Mende and their neighbors, masquerades of the Sande society encourage and celebrate young female initiates and offer a model of feminine beauty and spiritual power (image 11).Art and PoliticsPolitical institutions in Africa that predate European colonization have ranged from large, centralized kingdoms led by a single ruler to smaller, village-based societies. Centralized states may vary in size and complexity but are generally ruled by a chief or king, supported by a hierarchical bureaucracy. In many different societies, leaders are considered to be semidivine. In less centralized societies, power is not vested in a single individual. Instead, authority may be exercised by family heads, a council of elders, or local social or political institutions. African political institutions were dramatically impacted by colonial rule. The role of traditional rulers continues to change in postindependence Africa, where modern states are governed by national leaders. In centralized states, leaders have historically played an important role as patrons of the arts. Often, leaders held monopolies over the materials used and controlled artistic production as well (image 20). They commissioned a wide range of prestige objects, distinguished by the lavish use of luxury materials (images 14, 16, 20 22, 26), as well as complex architectural programs (image 18). Works made of metal, ivory, or beads were not only visually spectacular, but also reminded the public of the kings wealth and power. Such art forms underscored the kings fundamental difference fromand superiority tohis subjects. Royal arts are often used in ceremonial contexts that mark and legitimize political authority. Handheld objects, such as ywhisks, staffs, and pipes, are used as personal regalia to indicate rank and position within the court (images 14, 26). Image 3 Image 16
27 Special seats of ofce (images 31, 34) and clothes and regalia made of expensive materials (image 21) distinguish the leaders exalted position and set him apart, both literally and guratively, from his subjects. Larger works legitimize political power to a broad public. Portraits of past leaders document dynastic lines of leadership and serve as a visual reminder of the present kings legacy (images 20, 25, 29). Such portraits generally present an idealized depiction of a youthful and vigorous king and emphasize the various trappings of royalty. Among smaller, village-based societies, in which governance is distributed among local associations, artworks do not glorify a particular leader. Instead of lavish displays of royal regalia, masks and gures are used as agents of social control or education. Such works are generally commissioned by a group of individuals, such as a council of elders or members of a religious association. They give visual form to spiritual forces whose power is enlisted to maintain order and well-being in a community. Sometimes, artworks are deliberately fearsome, employing elements of the natural world considered inherently powerful, such as sacricial blood or medicinal plants (image 6). In other contexts, the sculptures imagery presents cultural ideals held collectively by the society (images 5, 7, 12, 24).Rites of PassageIn many African societies, art plays an important role in various rites of passage throughout the cycle of life. These rituals mark an individuals transition from one stage of life to another. The birth of a child, a youths coming of age, and the funeral of a respected elder are all events in which an individual undergoes a change of status. During these transitional periods, individuals are considered to be especially vulnerable to spiritual forces. Art objects are therefore created and employed to assist in the rite of passage and to reinforce community values. The birth of a child is an important event, not only for a family but for society as well. Children ensure the continuity of a community, and therefore a womans ability to bear children inspires awe. Ideals of motherhood and nurturance are often expressed visually through gurative sculpture. Among the Senufo, for example, female gures pay homage to the important roles women play as founders of lineage s and guardians of male initiates (image 7). The importance of motherhood is symbolized by a gently swelling belly and lines of scarication radiating from the navel, considered the source of life. In other societies, such as the Bamana, gural sculptures are employed in ceremonies designed to assist women having difculty conceiving (image 4). They serve simultaneously as a point of contact for spiritual intercession and as a visual reminder of physical and moral ideals. Initiation, or the coming of age of a boy or girl, is a transition frequently marked by ceremony and celebration The education of youths in preparation for the responsibilities of adulthood is often a long and arduous process. Initiation rites usually begin at the onset of puberty. Boys, and to a lesser extent girls, are Image 31 Image 7
28 separated from their families and taken to a secluded area on the outskirts of the community where they undergo a sustained period of instruction and, more typically in the past than now, circumcision. At the conclusion of this mentally and physically rigorous period, they are reintroduced to society as fully initiated adults and given the responsibilities and privileges that accompany their new status. During initiation, artworks protect and impart moral lessons to the youths. The spiritual forces associated with this period of transformation are often given visual expression in the form of masked performances. During the initiation of boys, male dancers wearing wooden masks may make several appearances (image 32). Their performances can serve diverse purposesto educate boys about their future social role, to bolster morale, to impress upon them respect for authority, or simply to entertain and relieve stress. The initiation of girls rarely includes the use of wooden masks, focusing more on transforming the body through the application of pigment. The womens Sande society, found among the Mende and their neighbors, is one of the few organizations in which women wear wooden masks as part of initiation ceremonies (image 11). Many initiation organizations continue in todays Africa, often adapting to contemporary lifestyles. For example, in the past, the Sande societys initiation process could take months to complete; now, Sande sessions have adapted to the calendars of secondary schools and initiation may be completed during vacation and holiday periods. In many African societies, death is not considered an end but rather another transition. The passing of a respected elder is a time of grief and lamentation but also celebration. In this nal rite of passage, the deceased joins the realm of the honored ancestors. While the dead are buried soon after death, a formal funeral often takes place at a later time. Funeral ceremonies with masked performances serve to celebrate the life of an individual and to assist the soul of the deceased in his or her passage from the human realm to that of the spirits (image 3). Such ceremonies generally mark the end of a period of mourning and may be collective, honoring the lives of the deceased over a number of years. Figurative sculpture is also employed to commemorate important ancestors. Representations of the deceased, individualized through details of hairstyle, dress, and scarication, serve not only as memorials but also as a focal point for rituals communicating with ancestors (images 15, 20). In some central African societies, certain bones of the deceased are believed to contain great power and are preserved in a reliquary In such cases, gurative sculpture attached to the reliquary does not represent the ancestor but honors and amplies the power of the sacred relics (image 27).Art and the IndividualWhile many kinds of African art are employed in communal contexts, others serve the needs of individuals. Domestic furnishings and objects of personal use, while practical in purpose, also have an aesthetic dimension. The artistic enhancement Image 32 Image 15
29 of objects of utilitarian function reect and reinforce an individuals standing and status in society. Details of form and decoration personalize an object, marking it as the property of a specic individual and, occasionally, providing information about ethnic afliation, social status, or rank. At the same time, the artistic inventiveness and careful execution of such works clearly indicate a desire to integrate aesthetics into daily life. Personal adornment and dress are important forms of aesthetic expression. Scarication and hairstyle, in particular, are regarded by Africans as means by which the body is rened and civilized. Specics of bodily ornamentation are often depicted in ne detail on masks and gurative sculpture, indicating their importance as symbols of cultural, personal, and/or professional identity (images 5, 7, 10, 13). Dress is also a means of self-expression and denition. Certain forms of textiles identify the wearer by age or status and may also convey personal identity as well (images 33, 36). Textiles have also historically been conceived as a form of wealth and their extensive use comments upon the wearers access to riches.Western Appreciation of African ArtThe appreciation of African art in the Western world has had an enormous impact not only on the development of modern art in Europe and the United States, but also on the way African art is presented in a Western museum setting. Although objects from Africa were brought to Europe as early as the fteenth century, it was during the colonial period that a greater awareness of African art developed. The cultural and aesthetic milieu of late-nineteenth-century Europe fostered an atmosphere in which African artifacts, once regarded as mere curios, became admired for their artistic qualities. African sculpture, in particular, served as a catalyst for the innovations of modernist artists. Seeking alternatives to realistic representation, Western artists admired African sculpture for its abstract conceptual approach to the human form. For example, the powerfully carved Fang reliquary gure, with its bulbous and uid forms, attracted the attention of the painter Andr Derain and the sculptor Jacob Epstein, both of whom once owned the sculpture (image 27). Increasing interest among artists and their patrons gradually brought African art to prominence in the Western art world. Along with this growing admiration for African art, the aesthetic preferences of collectors and dealers resulted in the development of distinctions between art and artifact. Masks and gurative statuary in wood and metalgenres and media most readily assimilated into established categories of ne art in the Westwere preferred over more overtly utilitarian objects, such as vessels or staffs. Masks and gurative statuary are more commonly found in western and central Africa. The legacy of early Western taste, with its emphasis on sculptural forms such as masks and gures, continues to inform most museum collections of African art. Image 36 Image 27
30 As African art became more widely appreciated in the West, scholars began to study both its stylistic diversity and the meanings that African artifacts hold for their makers. Our understanding of African art has been shaped by the work of anthropologists and art historians, many of whom have spent considerable time doing research in Africa on specic cultural traditions. African scholars are also undertaking research into their own heritage. Their sustained commentaries have led to new information and insights, providing a better understanding of the complex cultural meanings embodied in art. At the same time, scholars today recognize that interpreting the creation, form, and use of African art is an inexact science, as meanings and functions shift over time and across regions.
31Artists and PatronageArtists in AfricaTraditional African artists are generally regarded as skilled professionals, though they have varied training. Some are born into families of specialist artisans. Among Mande cultures in western Africa, such as the Bamana of Mali, artisans are a separate caste from the majority farmer group. Artisans such as blacksmiths, carvers, potters, and leather workers inherit their professions and generally marry within their groups (image 6). In the former kingdom of Dahomey (now Republic of Benin), members of the Huntondji family served Fon kings as jewelers and smiths for generations beginning in the eighteenth century (image 16). Other artists learn through long-term apprenticeship and study under a master artist. The Yoruba artist Olowe of Ise, who was active in what is now Nigeria from the late nineteenth century until his death in 1938, became a master sculptor after years of apprenticeship (image 18). Some artists are self-taught and learn their craft informally. In some African societies, artists believe they are called to their profession by a spiritual force. The master artist Zlan, active among Dan and We communities during the rst half of the twentieth century, considered carving to be his destiny (image 12). His profession was originally ordained in a relatives dream before his birth and conrmed during his youth when an adze fell from a palm oil tree his uncle was cutting. European-style art schools, introduced in the colonial period, also offer artistic training. Most traditional artists in Africa do not produce art as a fulltime occupation, but must earn a living through other means, such as farming. However, some royal kingdoms, such as Dahomey and Benin, supported guilds where artists worked exclusively for the king and his court. In sub-Saharan Africa, the materials artists work with and their techniques are historically specialized according to gender. Wood carving and metallurgy, for example, are often the exclusive domain of male artists, while pottery is typically considered womens art. In areas in which men and women practice the same art, such as weaving, their work is usually differentiated by technique, material, or style. For example, throughout western Africa, men weave long strips of cloth using a horizontal loom, while women produce wider textiles using a vertical loom. There are, of course, exceptions that suggest these gender divisions are not rigid. Kuba men and women in Democratic Republic of Congo collaborate in the creation of rafa textiles, which are woven by men and embroidered by women (image 33). In some communities, like the Mangbetu (Democratic Republic of Congo), men work as potters. The We master carver Zlan is said to have been assisted in sculpting by his wife, Sonzlanwon (snail, if God agrees) (image 12). Artists have diverse social roles within their communities throughout Africa. Some are highly regarded for their artistic skills. Others are respected for their Image 12
32 ability to work with certain materials. For example, blacksmiths are generally regarded as exceptionally powerful individuals, whose ability to transform ore into workable metal is seen akin to the creation of human life. In some communities, an artist who creates powerful objects is considered dangerous or socially aberrant. His exceptional abilities are thought to be outside the realm of ordinary human behavior. Although historically, most artifacts created by African artists were unsigned, their authors were not anonymous. The artists name was often known and remembered by the owner of the artifact and others within their community. Among the Yoruba, for example, respected artists are celebrated and recalled through the recitation of oriki a genre of recited praise poetry (image 18). Unfortunately, until the second half of the twentieth century, most collectors failed to record such information and therefore museums lack the documentation necessary to identify an artifact by its artist. Happily, there are instances in which the artists name is known (images 12, 18, 19) or an individuals stylistic traits have been identied (image 34). Absent such information about the artist, however, African objects are usually identied by their ethnic or regional origin. Earlier studies of African art equated ethnicity with style. Today, scholars recognize that, although certain formal parameters of artistic expression may predominate in any given society, style is not exclusively determined by culture. While artists often work within local conventions of form and style, it is important to remember that they also work creatively. An artists aesthetic choices, such as proportion, scale, details, and decoration, individualize the artwork. Furthermore, style is not a xed entity. There may be multiple styles of art within one cultural group. Some Fon artists, for example, produce luxury objects sheathed in silver for royal patrons, while others in the same society create artifacts encrusted with organic materials used in divination (images 16, 17). Style may cross cultural bordersas patrons commission works from artists in neighboring societiesor change over time. The concept of cultural style is perhaps most problematic in the case of African artists who work in contemporary urban or global contexts (images 39, 40).PatronageAfrican artists historically responded to the specic needs of a patron. Patrons may be political leaders or groups, members of associations, families or lineages, or individuals. Artists generally work for patrons from the same culture and therefore share a common understanding about an objects style and use. Artists can also produce objects for neighboring or foreign patrons, which sometimes leads to the introduction of new forms or styles. For instance, the tradition of carving and performing wooden masks is a recent one among the southern Bwa in Burkina Faso, adopted within the past hundred years from neighboring peoples (image 8). The patronage of African artists at coastal carving centers by Image 34 Image 40
33 Portuguese navigators during the fteenth and sixteenth centuries resulted in the creation and export of nely carved ivory prestige items, like the saltcellar made for the table of a European noble (image 9). The patron who buys and uses the artwork plays an important role in the objects appearance and its social context. While an artist may follow local conventions of style and form, specic features or stylistic innovations may be incorporated during the process of creation at the patrons request. The patron may also contribute to the appearance of the object after it has been purchased from the artist. For example, palm oil may be applied to the surface of a gural sculpture during its ritual use (image 27). and masks may be repainted by their owners from year to year. Image 9
34Materials and TechniquesMany tradition-based works of African art are made of perishable materials and are therefore subject to damage wrought by climate and insects in Africa. Most artifacts in museums were collected in the early twentieth century and were generally no older than a century at that time. For that reason, they have been dated from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Unlike Western art, which places a high value on permanence, many forms of African art were meant to meet the needs of only the original patron or even to serve a short-lived function. Importance was placed on the creative process itself, whether it be art making or ritual performance. The object itself could be renewed or replaced.WoodAfrican sculpture is generally made of wood, an impermanent material subject to termite or other environmental damage. Wooden sculptures from Africa in Western collections generally date no earlier than the late nineteenth century, though some older objects are known to exist. In arid climates like the western Sudan, wood sculpture has been preserved for longer periods (image 4). In such cases, the wood used for the sculpture may be dated by radiocarbon analysis, a method of calculating the age of organic materials (such as wood, bone, and shell) based on measuring the radioactive decay of carbon. This method is useful only if the artifact is more than 200 years old. The type of wood chosen by a sculptor is sometimes symbolically signicant and may require ritual preparation. Some Dogon sculptors, for example, must offer a sacrice to the spirit of a tree before using its wood. Most African wood sculpture is made from a single piece of wood. Carving in wood (as with stone or ivory) is a subtractive technique. The traditional tools of an African sculptor are the ax or the adze. An adze is similar to an ax, except that the blade is perpendicular rather than parallel to the handle. Using an ax or adze, the sculptor blocks out a generalized form from a large block of wood. As he renes the form through increasing denition, the sculptor may also use a knife to cut ne details. Some sculptures are smoothed and shined, some painted with locally made or imported pigments, and others encrusted with organic and other materials. In the Yoruba creative process, the various stages of the carving process are clearly dened. After visualizing the desired form, the sculptor selects a piece of freshly cut, green wood, which he keeps wet to facilitate carving. The rst of four stages, called onalile involves the preliminary blocking out of the wood with an ax or adze. In the next step, aletunle these main forms are rened into smaller masses, such as ears, hands, and eyes, using an adze or chisel. Smoothing of the carving, using a knife or chisel, is the third stage, called didan Finally, the artist uses a knife to carve ne details, completing the sculpture, a stage known as n Image 18 Image 4
35 In Yoruba society, a potential carver begins an extended apprenticeship with a master sculptor around age ten. The sculptor supervises the apprentice, introducing him to tools and materials as well as principles of design and their execution. In the beginning, the apprentice assists only with the most basic tasks such as the smoothing of the wood surface. With experience, he is allowed to block out the preliminary form. After several years of training, a talented apprentice may continue as a paid assistant and then eventually establish his own workshop.IvoryIvory from elephants holds both material and symbolic value. It is prized for its physical properties such as strength, density, and smoothness. Considered a luxury material, ivory was an important commercial commodity in trade with Europe. Because the elephant denotes strength and power in many African societies, ivory is also often used for arts associated with leadership. In centralized kingdoms, such as Benin (Nigeria), the use of ivory was historically an exclusive prerogative of royalty. The color of ivory is signicant in some cultures, since white is associated with ritual purity and spirituality in general (image 21). Ivory was generally carved by the same artist who sculpted wood, using similar techniques. Carvers used a knife or adze and polished the surface with a rough textured leaf or other abrasive material. Fresh ivory, from the tusks of recently killed elephants, was more oily and therefore easier to carve. In some societies, ivory carvers constituted a separate category of artisans. At the court of Benin, for example, the ivory carvers were organized into a guild known as Igbesamwan and lived and worked in separate quarters. In Lega society, the ownership of ivory artifacts historically has been restricted to members of the highest levels of the Bwami association, the core political and social institution. Today, ivory carving is still practiced in some areas of Africa, though to a much lesser extent given the international ban on ivory trade.StoneWhile the large-scale stone sculptures of ancient Egypt are well known, in subSaharan Africa stone has not been as widely used as wood as an artistic medium. The massive architectural structures at Great Zimbabwe and the large stelae at Aksum are among the few examples of the use of stone on a monumental scale. Among those societies that used stone as a medium, such as the Kongo, the material was often associated with inevitability and permanence (image 29). Although many traditions of stone carving have not continued in the present day, some forms of sculpture are products of more recent artistic developments. One well-known artistic movement is that of contemporary Zimbabwean stone sculpture, which was initiated in the late 1950s by Frank McEwen, director of the National Museum of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Local Shona artists were Image 21 Image 29
36 encouraged by McEwen, a British artist, to work in stone, a material associated with the ancient ruins and sculpture of Great Zimbabwe, and many artists continue to produce stone sculpture today.MetalMetalworking in sub-Saharan Africa may date to at least the seventh century B.C. There is early evidence of iron smelting technology and the forging of iron ore to create agricultural tools and weapons. Because metalworking was both an intrinsically dangerous process and an important technological skill, blacksmiths were (and are) highly regarded throughout much of Africa. In many African origin stories, for example, the founding culture hero is either a blacksmith or introduces the necessary skills to his people. Iron as a material is generally thought to be inherently powerful, and is often associated with the gods (image 16). Most ironworking throughout sub-Saharan Africa involves highly ritualized practices, as the process of transforming ore into metal is likened to the creation of human life. Luxury metals available locally include gold and copper alloys (bronze and brass). Indeed, at one point in history, most of the gold supply in Europe came from West Africa. Through trade with Europe beginning in the fteenth century, metals like copper alloy and silver became more plentiful. Because these metals were considered precious materials, they were generally used for prestige objects and signied wealth and power. Such metals were most often cast (images 20, 22, 28), but could also be worked in other ways, such as hammering into sheets. In some cultures, encasing a wooden object in sheet metal or metal foil was one way to maximize the visual effects of a costly material without using the vast quantities of metal required for casting (images 14, 16). The art of lost-wax casting, dating to at least the ninth century south of the Sahara, is an important one in Africa. The technique is similar to that used in Europe, but was developed independently. In fact, the virtuoso lifesize cast metal sculptures of Ife were created beginning around the twelfth to thirteenth century, a time when European artisans had not mastered casting on such a scale. To briey summarize the technique, the process begins by covering a core of clay with a layer of wax. This wax layer is then modeled, carved, and incised by the sculptor to create nal surface details. Another layer of clay then encases the wax form and is left to dry. After drying, the clay mold is heated to melt the wax. Molten metal is poured in the clay mold. Once the metal has cooled, the clay mold is broken open, resulting in a unique work.ClayWorks made of red clay, or terracotta, are among the earliest surviving artifacts from the African continent. Sites in the Sahara Desert have yielded terracotta objects that have been dated to the eighth millennium B.C. The corpus of Image 20
37 terracotta gures known as Nok constitutes the earliest known sculptural tradition in sub-Saharan Africa. Works made of terracotta include vessels as well as gurative objects (images 1, 15, 40). Many terracotta worksboth gurative and nongurativeare used in important rituals, particularly those relating to funerary practices (image 15). The technique of making ceramic vessels of clay is highly developed throughout Africa and usually practiced by women. Vessels are almost always built from hand without the aid of a potters wheel. Expert potters create perfectly formed vessels by coiling or molding. After the vessel dries, it is red outside in open pits. Decoration is usually done before ring, either by working designs into the clay or applying slip or vegetal solutions. The process of ring clay, like that of working metal, is also highly ritualized, though to a lesser extent. Traditionally, the process has been accompanied by certain taboos and restrictions intended to ensure successful ring. Potters today continue to use traditional methods of production, though some contemporary ceramic artists introduce new technologies in their work (image 40). Mud, which is clay in its most basic form, is also used in African architecture. It serves as a building material, either applied over a preexisting framework or used in the form of mud bricks. Mud is also used for the exterior decoration of houses, where it may be molded into relief designs or used as paint. Perhaps the most well-known example of mud brick architecture is the Great Mosque at Jenne, originally built in the thirteenth century, in Mali. The mosque is believed to be the largest adobe structure in the world and certainly is among the greatest achievements of African architecture.FiberIn Africa, cloth is made from locally available bers, including cotton, wool, silk, rafa palm leaves, and bark, as well as imports such as rayon (images 33, 38). Pounded bark may have been the earliest form of cloth in Africa and continues to be produced by some pygmy groups in central Africa. The other materials are woven on looms. Weaving is done by both men and women throughout Africa, although methods of production are generally differentiated by gender. In western Africa, for example, men weave long, narrow strips of cloth on a loom that is oriented horizontally. Women produce broader lengths of woven cloth on a vertical loom. Woven textiles are decorated using diverse methods, such as dyeing, painting, stamping, appliqu, embroidery, and printing. Other forms of natural bers, such as reeds and grasses, are used in basketry. Basketry techniques are used to produce objects, such as containers, hats, and shields, as well as in some forms of architecture. Image 15 Image 33
38PaintingThe use of pigment for artistic expression in Africa may date to as early as 70,000 years ago. Paintings on rock are found throughout the African continent, the earliest examples in the Saharan region possibly dating to 8000 B.C. Other signicant examples of rock painting are found in eastern and southern Africa. With important exceptions, such as rock painting and also Ethiopian manuscripts and painted church interiors (image 37), pigments are applied to three-dimensional forms in Africasculptural works (images 8, 19), architectural structures (image 18), and the human body. Historically, artists used naturally derived pigments, such as ocher and indigo, although today commercially made paints are also used. Often, certain colors or materials have symbolic value (image 8). For example, white clay, called kaolin is used widely throughout Africa, applied on the human body or on artifacts, to signify spirituality (image 13). Paint has become an increasingly popular medium from the twentieth century to today, especially in the vernacular sign paintings found throughout western Africa and in the work of academically trained contemporary artists.Other Materials and MediaAfrican artists use many other kinds of materials in the creation of artworks. Beads are used throughout much of Africa, often in the making of prestige objects. Many kinds of beads, particularly those made of seeds, shells, bone, or coral, are locally available in Africa. Others, especially glass beads, are of Indian or European manufacture and historically have been imported, often in great quantities. Animal hide, a strong and durable material, is also used to create objects, such as shields or items of dress. Different materials are often combined for practical, symbolic, or aesthetic effect (image 3). Organic material, derived from plants or animals, may be added or applied to an object for ritual purposes (images 6, 17). The technique of covering a wood form with animal skin is unique to a part of eastern Nigeria (image 24). Western techniques and materials, such as photography and concrete, are also widely used in Africa today (image 39). Image 19 Image 39
Quick List and Descriptions of Images
39Introduction to the Visual MaterialsThe images of art in this section are grouped by geographic region and within each region according to ethnic group. Images 38 40 depict modern and contemporary works of art. Dimensions of each artwork are noted to avoid misunderstandings about scale. Keep in mind that many of these objects were used in certain practical contexts. For example, remind the students that the masks and headdresses are intended to be seen in motion and together with costume. (You may want to view the enclosed video, which provides appropriate context for some of the headdresses.) Many of the three-dimensional works of art were also adorned and carried in rituals. Please familiarize yourself with the images and their descriptions. Initially you might have the students view some of the images without providing information to see what their reactions and questions will be. Ask the students to describe what they see. When your class is ready to look at the images in more depth, you may decide to lead the discussion or assign one or more works of art to each student, who will study the descriptions and be the expert for those images. The description of each work of art is followed by questions designed to stimulate class discussion. (In addition, selected works are presented in pairs in the Comparisons for Classroom Discussion section of this resource. By engaging in these comparing and contrasting exercises, the students will discern the distinctive features of the works of art.) As the discussion proceeds, students will become more comfortable expressing ideas about how the formal elements of art clarify its meaning and function.ThemesThe images are grouped by theme below. Select themes that are most appropriate for your group and which might provide a focus for a Museum visit. The lesson plans, activities, and discussion topics in the Classroom Applications section are based on these themes. Older students, individually or in small groups, could be assigned reports (oral, written, or both) focused on particular themes. Animal symbols 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21 24, 26 Human gures 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9 15, 17 25, 27 32, 34, 35, 37, 39 Masks and headdresses 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 19, 21, 24, 32 Function; communication with the spirit world To dene and praise leadership 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 23, 25, 28, 31, 33 34
40 To express ideals about social behavior 4, 7, 8, 10, 11 13, 18, 37 To protect, heal, and enforce 6, 13, 17, 23, 27, 30 To celebrate or commemorate the cycles of life, both human and agricultural 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11, 15, 19, 24, 32, 36 Formal elements Expressive exaggeration 1, 4, 7, 10, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 25 Naturalism 9, 16, 20, 21 Balance 4, 7, 9, 13, 14, 18, 20 22, 26, 27 Movement 1, 18, 25, 39 Scale 4, 10, 18, 22, 23, 37 Pattern 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 33, 36, 37, 38, 39 Media Wood 2 8, 10 14, 16 19, 23 25, 27, 30 32, 34, 35 Metal 16, 20, 22, 28 Ivory 9, 21 Ceramic 1, 15, 40 Textiles 33, 38 Added materials 3, 5, 6, 12, 13, 17, 27, 30 Imported materials and ideas 9, 14, 16, 26, 28, 31, 36 Exported art 9, 35
41Quick List of the Works of Art
42 2 Ritual Container ( Adun koro ), 16th 19th centrury Mali; Dogon 3 Mask and Hood ( Kanaga ), 19th 20th century Mali; DogonQuick List of the Works of Art 1 Seated Figure, 13th century; ca. 1235 Mali, Inland Niger Delta region 4 Mother and Child (Gwandusu); Seated Male with Lance (Gwantigi), 15th 20th century Mali; Bamana 5 Male and Female Antelope Headdresses ( Ci wara kun ), 19th 20th century Mali, Segou region; Bamana 6 Komo Headdress ( Komokunw ), 19th 20th century Mali; Bamana 7 Ancestral Couple ( Pombibele ), 19th 20th century Cte dIvoire, Korhogo region; Senufo 8 Mask ( Nwantantay ), 19th 20th century Burkina Faso; Bwa 9 Lidded Saltcellar, 15th 16th century Sierra Leone; Sapi-Portuguese 10 Headdress (Dmba or Yamban), 19th 20th century Guinea; Baga 11 Mende Helmet Mask, 19th 20th century Sierra Leone, Moyamba district; Mende or Sherbro 14 Linguist Staff ( Okyeamepoma ), 19th 20th century Ghana; Akan, Asante 15 Memorial Head, 19th 20th century Ghana; Akan 16 Buffalo ( Bocio ), 19th century Republic of Benin; Fon 20 Head of an Oba, ca. 1550 Nigeria, kingdom of Benin; Edo peoples 12 Ceremonial Ladle ( Wunkirmian or Wake mia ), Artist: Zlan, before 1960 Liberia and Cte dIvoire; We/Dan 13 Pair of Figures, 19th 20th century Cte dIvoire; Baule 17 Figure ( Bocio ), 19th early 20th century Republic of Benin; Fon 18 Veranda Post: Equestrian, before 1938 Artist: Olowe of Ise (ca. 1873 1938) Nigeria, Ekiti region; Yoruba 19 Helmet Mask (Gelede), ca. 1930 71 Artists: Fagbite Asamu of Idahin and Falola Edun Republic of Benin, Ketu region; Yoruba
43 22 Plaque: Oba on Horseback, ca. 1550 1680 Nigeria, kingdom of Benin; Edo peoples 21 Pendant Mask, 16th century Nigeria, kingdom of Benin; Edo peoples 25 Figure of a Chief (Lefem ), 19th 20th century Cameroon; Bangwa 26 Palm-Wine Container, 19th 20th century Cameroon; Grasselds 27 Reliquary Figure ( Nlo Byeri ), 19th 20th century Gabon; Fang 28 Crucix, 16th early 17th century Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola; Kongo 29 Seated Figure ( Tumba ), 19th 20th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Kongo, Bambona 31 Chair ( Ngumdja ), 19th 20th century Angola; Chokwe 35 Harp, 19th 20th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Mangbetu 36 Apron ( Ijogolo ), 19th 20th century South Africa; Ndebele 40 Untitled (Vessel), 1997 Magdalene Odundo (b. 1950) 32 Mask, 19th 20th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Yaka 33 Prestige Panel, 19th 20th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Kuba 37 Page from an Illuminated Gospel (The Ascension), early 15th century Ethiopia, Lake Tana region 38 Textile Mantle ( Lamba Mpanjaka ), 1998 Martin Rakotoarimanana (b. 1963) Madagascar; Malagasy (Merina) 39 Untitled Portrait, 1956 57, printed 1995 Seydou Keta (1923 2001) Bamako, Mali 23 Shrine ( Iri ), 19th 20th century Nigeria, Niger Delta region; Western Ijo 24 Janus-Faced Headdress, 19th 20th century Nigeria, Cross River region; Ejagham, Akparabong clan 30 Power Figure ( Nkisi nkondi ), 19th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Kongo 34 Stool, late 19th century Attributed to the Buli Master Democratic Republic of Congo; Luba
45 1 Seated Figure, 13th century; ca. 1235 Mali, Inland Niger Delta region Terracotta; H. 10 in. (25.4 cm) Purchase, Buckeye Trust and Mr. and Mrs. Milton Rosenthal Gifts, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest and Harris Brisbane Dick and Rogers Funds, 1981 (1981.218)Among the earliest known examples of art from sub-Saharan Africa are terracotta gures like this one from the inland delta of the Niger River, near the present-day home of the Dogon and Bamana peoples. In this region of Mali, the ancient city of Jenne-jeno (Old Jenne) ourished as a center for agriculture, trade, and art from the middle of the rst millennium until about 1600. The terracotta gures associated with this civilization represent men and women, singular and in pairs, in a variety of attire and poses, including sitting, kneeling, and on horseback. The diversity of imagery and the skill with which they were modeled reveal the rich sculptural heritage of a sophisticated urban culture. This gure sits, hunched over, with both arms clasping an upraised leg, its head tilted sideways to rest against its bent knee. The posture evokes a pensive attitude that is reinforced by the expressiveness of the facial features: the bulging eyes, large ears, and protruding mouth are all stylistically characteristic of works from this region. The uid contours of the body emphasize the long sweeping curve of the neck and back and the rhythmic play of intertwined limbs. Except for the barest suggestion of shoulder blades, ngers, and toes, the gure lacks anatomical details. On the back are three rows of raised marks and two rows of marks punched into the clay. These have been variously interpreted as scarication marks or symptoms of a disease. Thermoluminescence tests indicate that this gure was red during the rst half of the thirteenth century. Other terracotta gures recovered (and, in many cases, looted) from various sites throughout the Inland Niger Delta have been dated from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. Artistseither men or womenmodeled the gures by hand, using clay mixed with grog (crushed potsherds ). Details of dress, jewelry, and body ornament were either added on or incised. Once complete, the work was polished, covered with a reddish-toned clay slip, and then red, probably in an open-pit kiln. The surviving gures vary in style and subject matter, suggesting that the sculptors had considerable artistic freedom. Our understanding of the use and meaning of such works remains speculative. A few controlled archaeological digs have revealed similar gures that were originally set into the walls of houses. Oral history collected recently in the region supports the archaeological evidence, as the gures are said to have been venerated in special sanctuaries and private homes. There is little consensus, however, on the meaning of the various forms of the terracotta gures. Scholars have suggested that this gure conveys an attitude of mourning. Its seated pose, shaved head, and lack of dress recall mourning custom s still practiced by some in this region of western Africa.
47Discussion Questions1.What shapes are repeated in the gures outlines and details? Is there more than one? Explain. 2.Why do you think the artist chose to make this gure out of clay instead of wood or stone? 3.What does the gures pose express? 4.What draws your eye to the face? How would you describe the expression?
49 2 Ritual Container ( Adun koro ), 16th 19th century Mali; Dogon Wood; L. 93 in. (236.22 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.255)The Dogon call this monumental receptacle, carved from a single block of wood, the adun koro or ark of the world. The at-bottomed, rectangular box with a hollowed-out interior is used during annual harvest rituals to hold offerings to the spiritual world. This type of vessel has been interpreted by art historians as a representation of the mythic ark central to Dogon accounts of genesis. According to some accounts, the Creator Amma sent the mythic ark down from heaven to populate the world. Inside the vessel were the eight original ancestors equipped with everything essential to life on earth. The ark was guided from heaven by Nommo, a primordial being who was transformed into a horse upon the arks landing. The horses head and tail, sculpted on the ends of this vessel, suggest Nommos role as leader and subsequent earthly transformation. The eight original ancestors may be depicted here as a series of stylized squatting gures, carved in relief on the side of the container. They are represented in two groups of four, separated by a schematic animal, possibly a lizard. The Dogon live in remote villages, sheltered by the steep cliffs that stretch 125 miles parallel to the Niger River. The environment is particularly harsh, and Dogon farmers struggle to provide food for their families in this dry terrain. A successful harvest is therefore a time of celebration and the giving of thanks. Each year during winter solstice, after the millet is reaped, lineages (extended families) participate in a ritual known as goru The word goru is dened as humidity, richness, and abundance, all of which are seen by the Dogon as blessings from the spiritual world. In order to show gratitude to the ancestors and to Amma the Creator, the head of a lineage offers pieces of goat and sheep meat as sacrices to the family altar. These offerings are dramatically presented in the adunkoro the monumental container that evokes the mythic ark of the world.Discussion Questions1.What details on this rectangular box suggest a narrative? 2.Why is the Dogon myth of the ark of the world appropriate for thanksgiving celebrations? 3.Consider the concept of goru (humidity, richness, and abundance). Given the climate and area in which the Dogon live, why would goru be seen as a blessing from the spiritual world? 4.How did the carver enrich the surfaces of the container? What patterns and shapes are repeated?
51Mask and Hood ( Kanaga ), 19th 20th century Mali; Dogon Wood, ber (sanseveria), hide, pigment; L. 22 13/16 in. (57.9 cm) Gift of Lester Wunderman, 1987 (1987.74h,i)Dogon masks, such as this one called kanaga are worn primarily at dama a collective funerary rite for Dogon men. The rituals goal is to ensure the safe passage of the spirits of the deceased to the world of the ancestors. The ceremony is organized by members of Awa, a male initiation society with ritual and political roles within Dogon society. As part of the public rites related to death and remembrance, Awa society members are responsible for the creation and performance of the masks. Like other Dogon wooden masks, kanaga masks depict the face as a rectangular box with deeply hollowed channels for the eyes. The superstructure above the face identies this mask as a kanaga : a double-barred cross with short vertical elements projecting from the ends of the horizontal bars. This abstract form has been interpreted on two levels: literally, as a representation of a bird, and, on a more esoteric level, as a symbol of the creative force of god and the arrangement of the universe. In the latter interpretation, the upper crossbar represents the sky and the lower one, the earth. This kanaga mask was collected complete with some of its costume elements. Attached to the wooden face mask is a hood composed of plaited ber strips dyed black and yellow with a short ber fringe that covers the dancers head. A ruff of red and yellow bers frames the face. The dancer also wore a black vest woven of ber and embroidered with white cowry shells and ber armbands at the wrists and elbows. This ensemble included a long skirt of loosely strung, curly black bers and a short overskirt composed of straight red and yellow bers, worn over trousers. More than eighty different types of masks, of both wood and ber, have been documented in dama performances. They represent various human characters familiar to the Dogon community, such as hunters, warriors, healers, women, and people from neighboring ethnic groups. The masks may also depict animals, birds, objects, and abstract concepts. Because preparations are elaborate and costly, the dama may be held several years after the death and burial of an individual. Performances take place over a six-day period, culminating with a procession of masked dancers who escort the souls of the dead from the village, where they might cause harm, to their nal resting place in the spiritual realm. The ceremony recalls the origins of the Dogon people, while also marking the end of the mourning period for the recently deceased. Today, such masks continue to be worn at dama performances but are also danced on other, more secular occasions, such as national holidays and as demonstrations organized for the benet of tourists. 3
53Discussion Questions1.Look closely at the mask. Can you identify the different materials used? What are they? 2.What is the overall shape of the mask? What forms are repeated? 3.How would you describe the expression? 4.What could the stylized crossbars on the top of the mask symbolize?For further discussion exercises, please see Comparisons for Classroom Discussion in the Classroom Applications section.
55Mother and Child (Gwandusu), 15th 20th century Mali; Bamana Wood; H. 48 5/8 in. (123.5 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.121)Seated Male with Lance (Gwantigi), 15th 20th century Mali; Bamana Wood; H. 35 3/8 in. (89.9 cm) Gift of the Kronos Collection in honor of Martin Lerner, 1983 (1983.600a,b)The large, naturalistic gures of a woman and man shown here are associated with Jo, a society of initiated Bamana men and women found primarily in southern Mali, near the towns of Bougouni and Dioila. They are also used in Gwan, a division of Jo concerned with womens fertility and childbirth. Now displayed together in the Museums collection, each of these gures originally came from a different community where they were paired with mates of their own size. Each of these works embodies complementary Bamana ideals of physical beauty and moral character. The seated mother with child is referred to as Gwandusu, a name evoking strength, passion, and conviction. It combines Gwan, the name of the organization itself that also means hot, hard, or difcult, and dusu which translates as soul, heart, passion, courage, and anger. She is represented as both a nurturing mother and a female with extraordinary powers. Her heavy breasts hold the promise of milk for the child that clings to her abdomen. On her head is a hat decorated with amulets in the form of small animal horns lled with ritual ingredients, and strapped to her left arm is a dagger. Both the knife and hat are commonly associated with powerful male hunters: their representation here underscores the exceptional nature of this ideal woman. The male gure is called Gwantigi, or Master of Gwan. He is identied as a hunter and wears an amulet-laden headdress and a dagger on his arm. He is represented seated on a chair, an indication of his status as a leader. The lance he holds in his raised right hand conrms his power and authority. Jo and Gwan sculptures demonstrate a range of gestures and attributes that suggest a possible link to the terracotta statuary of the Inland Niger Delta region. These two sculptures are probably not the work of the same artist, although they are quite similar stylistically. Note their long, massive torsos with wide, arching shoulders, exaggerations of the human gure that emphasize their power. Their faces are thin and tapered, with large, heavy-lidded eyes, a slender nose, and sharply projecting lips. Represented as archetypes of humanity, they embody Bamana ideals of male and female social roles that, while distinct, are considered equally important in Bamana society. Jo and Gwan sculptures are cared for by senior members of the associations and displayed as part of a sculptural ensemble during annual festivals. Prior to 4
57 their public presentation, the sculptures are cleaned, oiled, and adorned with clothing. Annual displays organized by Jo typically involve only a pair of male and female gures. Those of the Gwan association are more elaborate, and may include up to seven gures in their grouping. Impressive in size and infrequently displayed, the sculptures evoke wonder during their annual presentations and are described by some Bamana as extraordinary and marvelous things. The wood from which these sculptures are carved has been dated as early as the fteenth century by radiocarbon analysis, which measures the amount of radioactive decay of carbon found in organic material. Wood is a perishable medium subject to damage in a warm, moist climate or by the ravages of insects. The unusually well preserved condition of the gures is largely due to the arid conditions of the region in which they were found.Discussion Questions1.What features suggest the mothers power and strength? 2.What do her large breasts symbolize about her role as a mother? How do we know she will protect her child? 3.What symbols of power and status does the male gure possess? 4.Although these gures were not made to be a pair, what features do they share? Why might you think they were made by the same group of carvers?
59Male and Female Antelope Headdresses ( Ci wara kun ), 19th 20th century Mali, Segou region; Bamana Wood, metal bands; 1978.412.435: H. 35 3/4 in. (90.8 cm); 1978.412.436: H. 28 in. (71.1 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1964 (1978.412.435, 1978.412.436)Pairs of carved wooden headdresses in the form of antelopes, like these examples, refer to the mythic culture hero Ci Wara, a divine force conceived of as half man and half antelope. Bamana oral traditions credit Ci Wara with introducing to humanity agricultural methods and an understanding of earth, animals, and plants. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Ci Wara was invoked and honored by members of a mens agricultural association, also called ci wara in village-wide performances that celebrated the skills of successful farmers. These performances featured a pair of dancers wearing sculpted headdresses, one representing a male antelope and the other a female. They held sticks in their hands to paw the earth just as the mythic Ci Wara did when he rst taught men to plant seeds. (See video of ci wara performances on the enclosed DVD.) In performance, the paired dancers symbolize the union between men and women, essential for the continuity of the community. The formal features of the headdress also reference elements of nature necessary to sustain life. The male serves as a metaphor for the sun, while the female is associated with the earth. The long strands of rafa bers attached to the headdress, concealing the dancer, are likened to streams of water. Although ci wara headdresses are generally described as representing antelopes, they incorporate features of other animals, including aardvarks and pangolins. These animals are selected for their symbolic value. In this pair, the horns and long, arched neck represent the antelope, associated with grace and strength. The head with a long, pointed nose and the low-slung body are features of the aardvark, admired for its determination in digging. The sculpted headdress is attached to a basketry skullcap (now missing on these examples) and secured on top of the dancers head with a cotton strip. The dancers face would be covered by a semitransparent cloth, and a costume of darkened rafa ber would cloak the dancers body. The silhouette-like nature of sculptural representation is noted for its elegant play of positive and negative space. The male, identied as a roan antelope, is distinguished by its long horns and elaborate openwork mane. The female, representing an oryx antelope, carries a fawn on her back, a reference to human mothers, who carry babies on their backs as they till the elds. The face and horns of both are decorated with delicate chip-carved patterning, incised linear designs, and metal appliqu and strips. The Bamana, who live in the southern part of present-day Mali, have long considered farming to be among the most noble of all professions. Traditionally, 5
61 Bamana farmers have worked arduously in the savanna elds from May to October, when it rains regularly, in order to provide enough food during the long, dry season. Today, despite the signicant social changes that have impacted contemporary Bamana experience, farming remains central to their identity. Although many Bamana have adopted Islam over the course of the last century, theatrical ci wara dances continue in many Bamana villages, celebrating their agrarian lifestyle. Among the continents most well-known forms of expression, the elegantly abstract form of the ci wara headdress has also been adopted as a national symbol of cultural identity, used as a logo by Malis ofcial airline and found on the national currency.Discussion Questions1.What indicates that the animal forms on these headdresses are not meant to look like real antelopes? 2.Why is an aardvark a good metaphor for the activities of a farmer? What might be the purpose of combining several animal features? 3.How can you tell which is the female antelope? Why? 4.What shapes and patterns are repeated in this pair? Note the shapes made by the voids as well as the solids (positive and negative space).
63Komo Headdress ( Komokunw ), 19th 20th century Mali; Bamana Wood, bird skull, horns, cloth, porcupine quill, sacricial material; L. 33 3/4 in. (85.6 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.150)This headdress was made and used by a member of the Komo society, an association of blacksmiths found among the Bamana and other Mande-speaking communities in the region. Komo association members enforce community laws, make judicial decisions, and offer protection from illness, misfortune, and malevolent forces. The headdress embodies the secret knowledge and awesome power of the society; its rough and unattractive form is therefore intended to be visually intimidating. While works like the Bamana maternity gure (image 4) depict a human ideal, this headdress is explicitly about harnessing the forces of untamed nature, a concept expressed visually in its form and material. The wooden structure of the headdress has a domed head, gaping mouth, and long horns. Attached are antelope horns, a bird skull with a sharp beak, and porcupine quills, elements chosen for their metaphorical associations since they provide animals with power and protection. The animals themselves hold symbolic value in Bamana culture. Birds, for example, are associated with wisdom and divinatory powers, while porcupines signify the importance of preserving knowledge. The mask was further enhanced by the application of ritual substances formed from a mixture of earth, sacricial animal blood, and medicinal plants. This material was replenished on a regular basis, endowing the mask with the critical life force, or nyama that is the source of its extraordinary power. Komo society headdresses are made by blacksmiths, a specialized artisan group among the Bamana whose profession is inherited. Blacksmiths are greatly respected within their community for the special knowledge and technical skills that allow them to use re, water, and air to transform iron ore into tools and weapons. Ironworking is considered an especially dangerous profession, one that requires courage and extraordinary abilities to manage the potentially destructive spiritual forces released during the process. Blacksmiths are therefore uniquely qualied to create Komo headdresses, which combine terrifying forms and inherently harmful materials in an object of benet to the community. The headdress is worn in dramatic performances that serve as a focal point of Komo society meetings. Held in private and restricted to initiated members, these meetings provide an opportunity to gain an understanding of the societys history, beliefs, and rituals. Accompanied by bards and musicians, a high-ranking Komo member appears wearing a headdress like this strapped on the top of his head. His face is covered with a semitransparent cloth and he wears a costume of black feathers enhanced with amulets over a hooped skirt. The dancers performance is acrobatic and intense, featuring spectacular feats that suggest extraordinary powers. His performance responds to petitions for assistance from members of 6
65 the community. Through song and dance, the Komo member gradually reveals solutions to a variety of concerns that have been presented to him, from crop failure to infertility. Considered the most powerful of mens associations in the region, Komo has an ancient history and was well established by the time the Mali empire rose to power in the thirteenth century. Individual community branches of Komo, which are distributed widely across the region, gain authority through strong leadership, coalitions with wilderness spirits, and effective use of power objects.Discussion Questions1.What materials were used to create this mask? What is the overall visual effect? 2.What actual animal parts have been added? How do animals use these features? 3.The sharp projections and rough surfaces were deliberately made to evoke what kind of reaction?
67Ancestral Couple ( Pombibele ), 19th 20th century Cte dIvoire, Korhogo region; Senufo Wood, pigment; H. male, 23 1/2 in. (59.7 cm); H. female, 23 7/10 in. (60.2 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.193,194)The Senufo are a diverse people who have varied cultural backgrounds and speak different dialect s. Nonetheless, they share a central social institution Poroto which all men belong. Within a Senufo community, each occupational groupfarmers, traders, artisanshas its own Poro chapter. Poro supervises the initiation of adolescent boys and provides continuing social and political guidance to its members. Members of its female counterpart, the Sandogo association, are diviners whose responsibilities include the maintenance of good relations with the spiritual world. Together, the mens and womens societies work to ensure the physical and spiritual well-being of the community. This male and female pair, representing an ideal Senufo man and woman, commemorate the original ancestors of the Senufo account of creation. Poros leadership commissions such gural pairs for display to reinforce social teachings during initiation ceremonies. The gures are also displayed at funerals of important Poro elders, a time of community grief and loss. Embodying Senufo beliefs concerning order and continuity, the gures remind the living of the importance of preserving connections with past generations. Similar in form, the gures stand erect, legs slightly exed and facing forward, with large ears cocked forward and jutting chin. Their elongated columnar torsos are framed by broad curving shoulders from which attenuated arms extend uidly, swelling into blocky hands. Both the frontal poses and the exaggerations of human anatomy visualize ideas about power, determination, and vitality. The extended navels refer to an awareness of the wisdom of the ancestors and, in the case of the female gure, also stress the role of women in the continuity of human life. The gures eyes are nearly closed, as if in meditation, a reference to the inner strength they possess. The male gure carries a scythe, a symbol that he is the farmer and provider. The womans exaggerated conical breasts and swelling belly indicate that she bears and nurtures children. The mans extraordinary headdress, the womans equally impressive coiffure their facial scarication and body adornments signify their high status. Together, they reect the complementary social roles of men and women in Senufo culture. 7
69Discussion Questions1.What does the pose (slightly bent knees, arms bent at the elbows, and jutting chin) suggest? Try taking this pose and describe what it feels like. 2.In what ways are ideal male and female roles expressed visually through this pair of gures? 3.Despite the differences in these two gures, how does the artist visually communicate that they are a pair? Consider symmetry, scale, and style.For further discussion exercises, please see Comparisons for Classroom Discussion in the Classroom Applications section.
71Mask ( Nwantantay ), 19th 20th century Burkina Faso; Bwa Wood, pigment, ber; H. 72 in. (182.9 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1964 (1978.412.306)Among the southern Bwa peoples in Burkina Faso, large wooden plank masks are carved to represent various ying spirits that inhabit the natural world. These spirits, though largely invisible, are associated with water and can take physical form as insects that gather around a pool after a heavy rain or as a large water fowl, like an ibis. Some Bwa describe a mythological encounter in which a ying spirit appeared before a human, offering protection and service. A tall plank mask was created after this encounter to honor the spirit and ensure its continued benecence. This mask has a circular face and tall, vertical superstructure with a series of downward-curving hooks projecting from both the front and the back. The protruding, diamond-shaped mouth with jagged teeth is pierced to allow the wearer to see. Brightly painted patterns in red, black, and white enhance the bold geometric shape of the plank. These designs refer to important Bwa ideals of social and moral behavior that are taught over the course of initiation. Each symbol has multiple levels of meaning that older initiates reveal gradually to novices as they mature. The checkerboard pattern of black and white squares, for example, refers on one level to the animal skins on which people sit: white representing the clean, fresh hides assigned to youths and black suggesting the darkened skins owned by elders. On a less literal level, the juxtaposition of white and black squares suggests abstract concepts such as the separation of good from evil, and of light from dark. Nwantantay masks are part of diverse ensembles of masks that represent animals, insects, humans, and supernatural creatures. The masks are commissioned and owned by large, extended families, or clans. The masks are used on several occasions throughout the year, including initiations, burials, annual renewal rites associated with planting and harvesting, and ceremonies celebrating the consecration of a new mask. These events are often competitive, with individual clans striving to present the most elaborate and inventive performance in the community. The mask is worn by a skilled dancer who secures it over his face by gripping a ber rope on the masks back with his teeth. His body is concealed by a bushy ber costume, traditionally dyed red or black, but now also seen in the bright green, yellow, and purple of European dyes. Accompanied by musicians playing utes and drums and women singing songs, the masquerader moves rapidly, imitating the behavior of a ying spirit. With ber costume twirling, he twists back and forth, then dips low to the ground, rotating the mask to suggest a disembodied apparition. 8
73 The tradition of carving and performing wooden masks is a recent one among the southern Bwa, adopted within the past hundred years from the neighboring Nunuma and Winiama peoples. Previously, the Bwa had created masks of leaves, vines, and grasses for use in ceremonies honoring Do, the earthly representative of the creator god. Resulting from the constant interplay of people and ideas, this example of cultural borrowing demonstrates the dynamism of masking traditions in the region and, in particular, the openness to innovation and adaptation that characterizes Bwa culture.Discussion Questions1.What geometric forms and patterns do you see in this mask? What human and animal features do you recognize? 2.The painted designs and patterns convey ideas of social order and moral behavior. What could the contrast between black and white symbolize?
75Lidded Saltcellar, 15th 16th century Sierra Leone; Sapi-Portuguese Ivory; H. 11 3/4 in. (29.8 cm) Gift of Paul and Ruth W. Tishman, 1991 (1991.435a,b)This magnicent lidded ivory saltcellar was carved by a Sapi sculptor working in what is now Sierra Leone. This work is part of a group of ivory artifacts created during the earliest period of exchange between Africans living south of the Sahara and Europeans. During the second half of the fteenth century, journeys of exploration brought Portuguese navigators into direct contact with cultures of coastal western Africa. At a number of coastal centers in present-day Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, as well as Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo, the travelers encountered African carvers of considerable talent and professional skill. They commissioned African works in ivory for export as souvenirs of their travels or as gifts for the European nobility who nanced their voyages. Many of the artifacts entered European princely collections, formed as cabinets of curiosities. These works, whose African origins had been forgotten until recent art historical research unearthed them, have come to be known as Afro-Portuguese ivories. At the time, salt was rare and therefore very expensive in Europe. To be able to display this precious commodity in such a nely carved and elaborately detailed vessel was a symbol of wealth and prestige at the table of a wealthy Portuguese. Local artists are believed to have been shown European prototypes on which to base their creations. This vessels form and some elements of its decoration recall European saltcellars. For example, an acorn nestled inside the stylized petals of a rose crowns the top of the container, while four rosettes carved in relief surround the upper part of the lid. Most of the designs, however, are distinctly African, reecting Sapi artistic sensibilities. Four gures wearing local dress are sculpted around the base. Two are warriors bearing swords and shields, and two are women. Above them, curving around the disk of ivory, are four delicately carved snakes that drop down toward four dogs represented in a state of alarm with bared fangs, drawn-back ears, and bristling fur. Although the Sapi peoples have dispersed to other locales since the sixteenth century, traditions associated with contemporary peoples related to the Sapi, notably the Baga, provide insights into the meaning of such imagery. In Baga belief, snakes are identied with local water spirits, called Ninigann. The Ninigann are described as powerful beings with long, smooth hair and brilliant scales. They are believed to be capable of spanning two realmsthe earthly and the spiritualand are associated with waterways, wealth (in the form of clothing and metal), and danger. These attributes coincide with Sapi perceptions of the Portuguese seafarers, whose owing hair and unusual attire may be compared to descriptions of Ninigann. Like the water spirits, the Portuguese visitors were regarded as powerful individuals with mystical abilities who traveled across the 9
77 water bringing great riches, in the form of trade. They also brought danger, since, beginning as early as 1512, the Portuguese king required that ships returning from Africa be laden with slaves.Discussion Questions1.How does the artist achieve balance and symmetry? Are there design details in one area that are repeated in another? Explain. 2.What surface designs emphasize the three-dimensional shapes of the saltcellar? 3.Why would this object be highly valued in a Portuguese household? Think about the materials, the appearance, and where it was made. 4.It is believed that the people who created this object associated snakes with Ninigann, a local water spirit. Why might snakes be appropriate decoration for an object created for Portuguese merchants traveling by sea?For further discussion exercises, please see Comparisons for Classroom Discussion in the Classroom Applications section.
79Headdress (Dmba or Yamban), 19th 20th century Guinea; Baga Wood; H. 46 1/2 in. (118.1 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.17)This massive headdress is an example of a regional artistic tradition that dates to at least 1886 and possibly to the early seventeenth century. Among Baga subgroups the headdress is referred to variously as Dmba or Yamban, an abstract concept personifying local ideals of female power, goodness, and social comportment. Carved from a single piece of wood, this work takes the form of a large head and slender neck supported by a yoke with four projecting legs. Flat, pendulous breasts signify that the subject is a mature woman who has nursed many children. She is distinguished from ordinary Baga by her intricately braided coiffure with high central crest, a hairstyle associated with Fulbe women, who are renowned for their physical beauty. This coiffure is also a reminder of cultural origins, as the Fulbe live in the Futa Jallon mountains, the ancestral homeland of the Baga people. Incised linear patterns representing scarication marks decorate her face, neck, and breasts. Such monumental structures, carried on the shoulders of the performer, often weigh more than eighty pounds. In its original context, the headdress would have had a thick rafa skirt attached to the bottom of the yoke. A shawl of dark cotton cloth, imported from Europe, would be tied around the shoulders, hiding the legs of the yoke. The ideals of womanhood expressed symbolically by the strong forms of the headdress are reinforced by the movement of the male dancer, who communicates a model of virtuous behavior for Baga women (g.1). Performances documented in the 1990s describe the dramatic entrance of the masquerader in a central plaza, preceded by a processional line of drummers. Despite its unwieldy size, the headdress is manipulated skillfully by the dancer, whose movements are alternately composed and vigorous. As the dancer twirls to the accompaniment of drums, the assembled audience of male and female onlookers participates actively. Some reach to touch the breasts of the headdress, afrming its blessings of fertility, while others throw rice, symbolizing agricultural bounty. Songs prescribing proper social behavior are led by women who are joined in the chorus by men. Beginning at sunrise, the celebration continues through sundown and sometimes over the course of many days. Historically, such masks were used in dances held at planting times and harvest celebrations, as well as at marriages, funerals, and ceremonies in honor of special guests. Following Guineas independence from France in 1958 and its adoption of a Marxist government, the tradition was suppressed by Muslim leaders and state ofcials. In the 1990s, the lifting of decades of censorship was followed by a popular revival of earlier art forms. In Baga society, Dmba (or 10Fig. 1. A Dmba or Yamban headdress danced by Vincent Bangoura as part of a Baga celebration. Photograph by Frederick Lamp, 1990.
81 Yamban) now appears publicly on occasions marking personal and communal growth, including marriages, births, and harvest festivals, as well as celebratory occasions such as soccer tournaments.Discussion Questions1. What are the signs of status and beauty the Baga people would immediately recognize on this mask? 2. The large head, eyes, and nose symbolize what desirable characteristics? 3. Consider the large size of this headdress. What skills would the performer of this mask need in order to move slowly and then quickly? 4. Look at the female features that are emphasized by the artist. What characteristics do you think were important to the Baga?
83Mende Helmet Mask, 19th 20th century Sierra Leone, Moyamba district; Mende or Sherbro Wood, metal; H. 18 7/8 in. (47.9 cm) Gift of Robert and Nancy Nooter, 1982 (1982.389)This helmet mask reveals the hand of a master through its rened carving, harmonious design, and innovative elements. Within Mende and Sherbro culture, helmet masks are carved with symbolic features intended to endow the wearer with spiritual power. Senior members of two distinct initiation societies, Sande and Humui, may have worn this work in performances. Sande is a powerful pan-ethnic womens association responsible for the education and moral development of young girls. Helmet masks of this kind represent its guardian spirit and allude to an idealized female beauty. Historically, the Sande initiation process took months to complete, yet today sessions are coordinated with the calendars of secondary schools and may be completed during vacations and holidays. Such masks are worn by initiated Sande women at performances that celebrate the completion of the young initiates training period. The masks are nely carved to convey admired feminine features: an elaborate coiffure, a smooth, broad forehead, narrowly slit eyes, a small, composed mouth, and a sensuously ringed neck. This composition of forms and symmetry creates a serene facial expression that implies self-control. The presence of a beard, a symbol synonymous with the wisdom men achieve with age and experience, may suggest that, through Sande, women attain knowledge equal to men. Directly below the curve of the beard are two slots through which the performer can see. The masks glossy black patina evokes the beauty of clean, healthy, oiled skin. It may also refer to the blackness of the river bottom, where the Sande spirit is believed to reside. In this interpretation, the ringed neck may refer to the circular ripples of water that are formed as the Sande spirit emerges from her watery realm. In Humui, a medicine society for men and women, this type of helmet mask has been used to address curative needs, especially mental illness. The four projecting animal-horn amulets that rise from the perimeter may be a reference to the animal horns lled with protective medicinal ingredients worn by Humui members.Discussion Questions1.What might the four horns symbolize? 2.What ideals do the facial features express? 3.Why the beard? 11
85Ceremonial Ladle (Wunkirmian or Wake mia ), before 1960 Artist: Zlan Liberia and Cte dIvoire; We/Dan Wood, ber, metal, pigment; L. 23 in. (58.4 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.254)Among the We and neighboring Dan peoples, large, sculpted ladles like this one are created to honor women known as wunkirle a title earned through their exceptional generosity and hospitality. This title is bestowed upon one woman from each village quarter who has demonstrated outstanding abilities as an industrious farmer, a bountiful provider of food, and a gracious host. The chosen woman is expected to offer hospitality to all who come to her door at the great celebrations that occur before the planting season begins. As wunkirle she leads a procession of women carrying pots of cooked rice and soup and directs the distribution of the food to all the guests in attendance. Her duties also include hosting itinerant bands of musicians and entertainers as well as later providing food for men who toil in the elds during the planting season. Such ladles are carved as an emblem of honor for a particular wunkirle and are typically passed on to the successor she selects to replace her. According to We belief, these ceremonial ladles embody a spiritual force, called d which sustains the wunkirle s exceptional abilities to organize feasts, bringing her great fame and social status. Women who have been honored as wunkirle often accompany male dancers wearing masks in performances. Bearing their ladles in hand, the women dance with the masker, offering gifts and blessings. This ladle takes the form of a long, scooplike bowl surmounted by a handle in the shape of a female head. It is attributed to the artist Zlan, a master carver active during the rst half of the twentieth century. The face, sculpted in a style characteristic of Zlans work, features slit eyes, a generous mouth with four metaltab teeth, and a line of delicately incised scarication from forehead to nose. White kaolin clay around the eyes and extending to the sides represents the band of white kaolin clay that Dan women often apply cosmetically to symbolize the heightened powers of sight one must possess to be aware of the spiritual realm. A carved coiffure of two large crescents extending front to back is embellished with plaited ber along the central ridges. On such ladles, the sculpted head is believed to be a portrait of the original owner of the ladle, whose individuality is conveyed through details of specic scarication and coiffure design features, rather than physical likeness. Zlans work was much sought after by wealthy patrons in Dan, Mano, and We villages in Liberia and Cte dIvoire. The son of a carver, Zlan was born around the turn of the twentieth century in a We town on the River Cess, which forms a border between Cte dIvoire and Liberia. Zlans early demonstration of artistic talent was recognized and encouraged by his mother, who gave him his rst adze. He secured his rst commission for a sculpture around the age of thirteen and 12
87 eventually gained widespread recognition for his masterful carvings, many of which now grace museum collections in the United States and Europe. Until his death sometime before 1960, Zlan served as a mentor to many students during their apprenticeship, establishing his village of Belewale as a major center of carving. According to the recollections of locals, Zlan was often assisted in carving by his wife Sonzlanwon, who blocked out forms in the wood for Zlan to nish. The tradition of carving has continued in Zlans family, at least through the late 1980s, carried on by his nephews Wrudugweh and Blekwa as well as a niece, Ziate.Discussion Questions1.Why is a ladle decorated with a female face an appropriate way to recognize a womans hospitality? Describe her expression. 2.Discuss the meaning and function of this ladle. 3.What details indicate that this ladle belonged to a woman of high status in her society? 4.Identify the materials the carver added to the wood.
89Pair of Figures, 19th 20th century Cte dIvoire; Baule Wood, pigment, beads, iron; H. male, 21 3/16 in. (55.4 cm); H. female, 20 2/3 in. (52.5 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1969 (1978.412.390,.391)Carved by the same hand, these gures reect and embody Baule ideals of civilized beauty. In Baule society, diviners commission such gures from artists to attract the attention of asye usu or nature spirits. Asye usu are considered to be grotesque and volatile beings associated with the untamed elements of nature. The spirits are seduced from the wilderness by the gures dazzling beauty and lured into inhabiting the sculptures, which embody the civilized values the asye usu lack and therefore nd so desirable. The asye usu are then induced into sharing spiritual insights, conveyed through the medium of the diviner. Such gures are prominently displayed during ritual sessions with clients who seek clarication about their difculties, which can range from poor harvests to physical illness. The presence of the sculptures and the sacricial material applied to their feet (never to the smooth surfaces of their bodies), along with repeated striking of a gong, help to induce the trance state that allows the diviner to communicate with the asye usu The diviner can then gain insights and revelations regarding the source of the clients problems. The ownership of such extraordinary works also serves to further the professional standing of the diviner, who must impress potential clients with the caliber and sophistication of the instruments used in his or her practice (g. 2). Although depicted separately, the male and female gures are perfectly harmonized through their matched forms, gestures, stances, and expressions. Their elaborate coiffures, intricate scarication, and beaded accoutrements signify cultural renement and status. Their erect, balanced pose and partially closed eyes imply respect, self-control, and serenity. The fully rounded muscles of their exed legs suggest physical strength, youthful energy, and the potential for action. White kaolin accentuates the elegant arches of their eyebrows, reecting the practice of diviners, who apply the ne clay around their eyes to facilitate communication with the spirits. 13 Fig. 2. Katake, a trance diviner ( komien ), in his shrine with gures displayed behind him. Photograph by Susan Vogel, 1997.
91Discussion Questions1.How can you tell that these gures were carved by the same hand? What suggests they are meant to be a pair? 2.How are the couples status and renement shown? What features suggest their self-control? 3.What forms show strength and imply movement? 4.Why might these gures be attractive to powerful nature spirits, who are considered to be wild and grotesque? 5.Discuss the function of these gures and what they represented to the Baule.For further discussion exercises, please see Comparisons for Classroom Discussion in the Classroom Applications section.
93Linguist Staff ( Okyeamepoma ), 19th 20th century Ghana; Akan, Asante Gold foil, wood, nails; H. 61 5/8 in. (156.5 cm) Gift of the Richard J. Faletti Family, 1986 (1986.475a-c)This magnicent gold-covered staff was created to serve as an insignia of ofce for an okyeame a high-ranking advisor to an Asante ruler. The position of okyeame encompasses a broad set of responsibilities, including mediation, judicial advocacy, political troubleshooting, and the preservation and interpretation of royal history. The okyeame s most visible public role is as principal intermediary between the ruler and those who seek his counsel, leading to the popular characterization of his profession as being that of a linguist (g. 3). Drawing upon vast knowledge and considerable oratorical and diplomatic skills, the okyeame eloquently engages in verbal discourse on behalf of the chief and his visitors. He relays the words of visitors to the king and transmits the kings response, often with poetic or metaphorical embellishment. Imagery on the nial of linguist staffs typically illustrates Asante proverbs about power and institutional responsibilities. Here, a spider on its web is anked by two gures, representing the proverb: No one goes to the house of the spider to teach it wisdom. The spider is a tting symbol for respect due to a person with great oratorical and diplomatic skills. In Ghana, Ananse the spider is the bringer of the wisdom of Nyame, the supreme creator god of the Asante, and is the originator of folk tales and proverbs. The staff is composed of a long wooden shaft carved in two interlocking sections and a separate nial attached to the base. It is covered entirely with gold foil, a material that alludes to the sun, and to the vital force or soul contained within all living things. Although the institutional ofce of okyeame is believed to be centuries old, the use of gural wooden linguist staffs as insignia is probably a more recent development. Prior to the late nineteenth century, linguist staffs took the form of a simple cane, a tradition likely borrowed from European prototypes in the mid-seventeenth century. During the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, the British gave ofcial staffs, often made with gural nials, to Akan chiefs who represented the colonial authorities. Since 1900, hundreds of gural linguist staffs have been carved not only for linguists but also for representatives of other institutions, such as associations of shermen, carpenters, and musicians. The Asante kingdom, part of the larger Akan culture, was formed around 1700 under the leadership of Osei Tutu. Osei Tutu brought together a confederation of states that had grown wealthy and powerful as a result of the areas lucrative trade in gold, sold to both northern merchants across the Sahara and European navigators. The centralized system of government that emerged was a complex network of chiefs and court ofcials under a single paramount leader. A variety of gold regalia was used to distinguish rank and position within the court. 14Fig. 3. Fante linguists holding staffs. Photograph by Herbert Cole, 1974.
95Discussion Questions1.How is your eye directed to the spider? What geometric shapes create the spiders web? 2.What might happen if the two small men move closer to the spider? 3.What is the message to people who approach the linguist with problems? According to Asante folk tales, Ananse the spider brought wisdom to the Akan. Why, then, is a spider an appropriate symbol for a linguist? 4.Describe how the staff was made.
97Memorial Head, 19th 20th century Ghana; Akan Terracotta; H. 12 5/16 in. (31.3 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1964 (1978.412.353)Since the late sixteenth century, Akan women potters have created ceramic heads and sometimes complete gures to commemorate deceased royals and individuals of high status. During the funeral, family members placed the terracotta portraits of the deceased in a sacred grove near the cemetery, sometimes with representations of other family members. These sculptures served as the focal point for funerary rites in which libations and food were offered to the ancestors. This example has a rounded face with protruding elliptical eyes that tilt downward and a delicately shaped nose. These circular shapes are repeated by the eyebrows, ears, and open, oval-shaped mouth which projects from the smooth surface of the face. An incised line curves around the forehead, indicating the hairline. The surface of the sculpture has been covered with a clay slip tinted black, a color linked to the ancestral world and spiritual power in Akan thought. Like other examples of African portraiture, these commemorative sculptures are idealized representations that convey individuality through specics of scarication and hairstyle. The artist would typically be summoned to the deathbed of the deceased in order to observe his or her distinguishing characteristics, which she would depict later, working from memory to capture the individuals essence. The gural terracotta sculptures vary enormously in style, ranging from fairly naturalistic and sculpturally rounded forms to examples that are solid, at, and more dramatically stylized.Discussion Questions1.Describe the expression on this face. In what ways is it appropriate to its use as a memorial? 2.How would surviving members of this individual be able to identify her? 3.What tells us that this head is hollow? Discuss how sculpture like this is formed from clay and red.For further discussion exercises, please see Comparisons for Classroom Discussion in the Classroom Applications section. 15
99Buffalo ( Bocio ), 19th century Republic of Benin; Fon Silver, iron, wood; H. 12 in. (30.5 cm) Gift of Anne dHarnoncourt and Joseph Rishel, in memory of Ren and Sarah Carr dHarnoncourt and Nelson A. Rockefeller, 2002 (2002.517.1)Royal works of art, like this silver buffalo, were made by members of the Huntondji family, who served Fon kings as jewelers and smiths since the eighteenth century. Though small in size, this shimmering silver creature radiates strength and determination. Bulging eyes, bared teeth, black curved horns, cocked ears, and swishing tail create this effect. Its eyes, horns, and tail are made from iron, a material associated with the Fon war god, Gu. The forest buffalo was an emblem of the Fon king Guezo, who ruled Dahomey (modern Republic of Benin) from 1818 until 1858. The qualities associated with a rulers emblemin the case of the buffalo, strength, enduring memory, and royal legacywere seen as dening a kings reign. Although he came to power by usurping the throne of his older brother, Guezo is recalled as an important leader who unied the diverse constituencies of the kingdom. Symbols of Fon kings were determined in a divination ceremony known as fa which predicted the nature and character of each kings reign. The buffalo emblem is one of 256 different fa divination signs, which were represented in a variety of artistic media created to support and enhance the kings authority. Sculptural forms, like this example, in addition to functioning as royal symbols, also served as bocio empowered objects that provided protection to the king. Placed in palace shrines where they served as the focus of prayer, these works were given potency through the presence of powerful substances in their interiors. Royal bocio were also displayed during ceremonial processions and transported to battleelds during times of war. To create this buffalo gure, the sculptor sheathed a solid wooden core with very thin pieces of silver. He tacked these pieces to the surface in individual sheets, creating a patchwork effect. Then he nished the surface with hatching marks to simulate hide and incised vertical lines for the large, bared teeth. The sculptors technique was a clever one, because silver was a luxury material derived primarily from European coins. The artists technique of encasing wood in sheet metal maximized the visual effects of a costly material without using the large quantities of metal required for lost-wax casting. The Fon kingdom of Dahomey, founded in the early seventeenth century, was an important regional power renowned for its strong monarchy, military prowess, and impressive court arts. Dahomeys inuence expanded in the eighteenth century with the capture of the port city of Ouidah. From this coastal center, the kingdom participated in lucrative trade with Europeans, growing prosperous rst by serving as a middleman in the Atlantic slave trade and, later, by selling palm oil. French colonization and the subsequent abolishment of the institution of kingship led to the fall of Dahomey in the late nineteenth century. 16
101Discussion Questions1. Whywouldakingchooseaforestbuffaloashissymbol? 2. Whatfeaturesofthisobjectevoketheenergyandpowerinthisbeast? 3. Discussthefunctionofthisobject. 4. Tocreatethisworkofart,theartistsheathedapieceofwoodinsilver. Canyouseehowandwheretheindividualpiecesarejoinedtogether? Howdoestheprocesscontributetothenalvisualeffect?
103Figure ( Bocio ),19th early20thcentury RepublicofBenin;Fon Wood,bone,metalwire,sacricialmaterials;H.191/2in.(49.5cm) Purchase,TheDeniseandAndrewSaulPhilanthropicFundGift,1984(1984.190)Thisbustonceservedasaprotectivedevice,or bocio ,ensuringitsownershealth andwell-being,andsafeguardingagainstpotentialharm.Endinginapointed stake,itwashammeredintotheground.Unlikethesumptuous bocio madeforFon kings,thiskindofartisprescribedbydivinersforusebynonroyalindividuals. Thecarvingsaremostoftenmadebynonspecialistsfortheirfamilymembersand thenempoweredbyadivinerwhoaddsvariousorganicsubstances.Themost powerful bocio aremadebyritualspecialistssuchasdiviners,called bokonon ,and priestsassociatedwiththedeitiesknownas vodun Theunrenedcarvingstyleandtheroughsurfacescombinetocreatean aestheticofrawenergy.Themassiveheadiscarvedwithfacesoneitherside. Thelarger,moredominantheadfacesfront,itsinscrutablegazeandpursed lipssuggestingintenseconcentration.Ontheothersideisasmaller,skull-like facewhoseotherworldlygazeisaccentuatedbyitsasymmetrical,emptyeye sockets.Thedisproportionatelylargeheadunderscoresthecentralityofphysical perception,whilethepresenceoftwosetsofeyessuggestsastateofheightened visionandwatchfulness. Plantandanimalmaterialsgivetheworksupernaturalpowers.Adogs skullcrownsthehead,andagarlandofserpentbonesencirclestheneck.Such materialshavesymbolicsignicance.Thepresenceoftheskullofadog,an animalpraisedforitsprotectiveskills,reinforcesnotionsofguardianshipand surveillancecentraltotheefcacyofthisobject.Snakescalltomindpoisonous attacks. Theresultingworkfunctionsproactivelyasadefensemechanism,responding tothevariedneedsofitsowner.Usesmayincludethedetectionofthieves, protectionfromsorcery,andthemanipulationofweather.Asasurrogateforthe individualwhocommissionedit,a bocio servesasadecoy,drawingharmfulforces awayfromitsowner.Operatingattheintersectionofthespiritualandhuman realms, bocio arestrategicallysituatedalongpaths,roadways,agriculturalelds, andnearfamilycompounds,orplacedinsidehomesandshrines. 17
105Discussion Questions1.Thedivineraddedorganicmaterialsassociatedwithdogsandsnakesto theoriginalformcarvedfromwood.Whatarethesymbolicmeaningsof thesematerialsfortheFon?Dotheseanimalshavesimilarmeaningsin othercultures? 2.Thissculptureistheresultofbothareductiveprocess(thecarvingof wood)andtheaccumulationoforganicmaterials.Canyouidentifyareas ofeach? 3.Whatdoestheguresfaceexpress?Isitappropriateforanobjectwhose purposeistodeectpotentialharm?Howisthegurespowerenhanced bythesecondfaceontheback?Forfurtherdiscussionexercises,pleaseseeComparisonsforClassroom DiscussionintheClassroomApplicationssection.
107Veranda Post: Equestrian,before1938 Artist:OloweofIse(ca.1873 1938) Nigeria,Ekitiregion;Yoruba Wood,pigment;H.71in.(180.3cm) Purchase,LilaAchesonWallaceGift,1996(1996.558)Intheearlytwentiethcentury,aYorubarulercommissionedthisarchitectural columnfromoneofthemostrenownedsculptorsinthehistoryofYorubaart, OloweofIse.BorninthenineteenthcenturyinEfon-Alaiye,afamedcarving center,OlowemovedasayouthsoutheasttoIse.There,hisartisticreputation wasestablishedwhenhecarvedaprogramofarchitecturalsculpturesforitsking, theArinjale.Subsequentcommissionsofarchitecturalsculptureforthepalaces ofotherregionalleadersbroughtOloweevengreaterrecognitionasamaster sculptor.Admiredbyhiscontemporaries,Olowesartistictalentisrecalledin oriki ,orpraisepoems,composedinhishonor.Hisaccomplishmentswerealso recognizedintheWest.In1924,apairofhispalacedoorswasexhibitedin LondonandacquiredfortheBritishMuseum. Olowecreatedthisverandapost,oneofseveral,fortheexteriorcourtyardof aYorubapalace.Carvedfromonepieceofwood,thecompositioncombinestwo classicYorubaiconsofpowerandleadership.Themostprominentoftheseisthe equestrianwarrior,whoisdepictedfrontallysittingregallyonadiminutivehorse. Heholdsaspearandarevolver.Theimageofthemountedwarriorsymbolizes themilitarymightneededtoformkingdoms.Localleadersadoptedthisimageto validatetheirrule.Atthebaseofthepost,thekneelingfemalegureisdepicted asthedominantform.InYorubaculture,womenarehonoredasthesourceof humanlifeandembodyideasofspiritual,political,andeconomicpower.These allegoricalrepresentationsunderscorethewealthandpoweroftherulerwho commissionedthework. Here,asinotherexamplesofAfricansculpture,proportionandscaleare alteredandexaggeratedtosymbolizeideas.Thedisproportionatelylargeheads representcharacter,self-control,andmotivation.Eyesarelargetosuggest awareness.AmongtheYoruba,themostbeautifulpeoplehaveagapbetween theirupperfrontteeth.Thewomansexaggeratedbreastssymbolizeherabilityto havechildrenandtonurturethem.Thewomanisrepresentedslightlylargerthan thewarrior,suggestingthatsheistheessentialsupport.Thewarriorshorse,less importantthanitsrider,isdepictedassmaller.Thesubordinateroleofthetwo youthsbythewomanssideissuggestedbytheirsmallscale. Stylistically,Olowewasveryinnovativeinhiscomposition.Heisespecially knownforthemannerinwhichguresprojectbeyondtheimmediateboundaries ofthesculpturalspace.Here,insteadoftheusualYorubapracticeofdepicting guresinfrontalposes,hesculptedthefemalegureturningtowardtheleftwith thetwosmallerattendantsradiatingoutwardatobliqueangles.Thecompressed styleoftheupperportionofthecolumn,withitsweightyandself-contained equestriangure,contrastswiththesenseofkineticenergycreatedbythe 18
109 dynamiccompositionofmultipleguresbelow.Thesculpturesformalcomplexity isenhancedbyitstexturedsurface,withdetailsoriginallypaintedinblack,white, androyalblue.Thedeepcarvingstylewaswellsuitedtotheintenseraking sunlightofitsoriginalsettingjustinsideanexteriorveranda. TheYoruba,wholiveinsouthwesternNigeriaandsouthernBenin,area diversepeoplewitharichculturalandartisticheritageofconsiderableantiquity. Althoughtheynumberover15millionpeople,theYorubaembraceanoverarching commonidentitythroughsharedlanguageandhistory.Theytracetheorigins ofbothlifeandcivilizationtotheirfoundingcityofIle-Ife,whichwasathriving urbancenterbytheeleventhcentury.Inthecenturiesthatfollowed,numerous autonomouscity-statesdeveloped,relatedthroughprofesseddescentfrom Ile-Ife.Ingeneral,eachcity-statewasgovernedbyasacredruler,whosepower wasbalancedbyacouncilofelders.Artistsworkingfortheseregionalleaders producedawiderangeofartformsdesignedtoglorifythestatusofthekingand hiscourt.Discussion Questions1. Discussthefunctionofthispostasoneofseveralsupportingaporchin thecourtyardleadingtotheentranceofaYorubaleaderspalace. 2. Whatideasaboutkingshiparesymbolizedbythewarriorandthewoman supportinghim? 3. Whichofthetwomainguresismoreimportant?Oraretheyboth importantsymbols?Explain. 4. Whatmakesthispostinterestingfrommorethanonepointofview? 5. DiscussOloweandhisskillincarvingthiscolumnoutofonelarge treetrunk.
111Helmet Mask (Gelede),ca.1930 71 Artists:FagbiteAsamuofIdahinandFalolaEdun RepublicofBenin,Keturegion;Yoruba Wood,metalnails,pigment;H.41in.(104.1cm) GiftofRodaandGilbertGraham,1992(1992.225.1)ThemaskingtraditionknownasGeledeisbelievedtohaveoriginatedamongthe YorubapeopleoftheKeturegion,intodaysRepublicofBenin,sometimeinthe lateeighteenthcentury.Geledehonorsthespiritualpowersofelderlywomen whoarereferredtoas awon iya wa ,orourmothers.Theirpowersarenotlimited tohumanfertilitybutextendtoagriculturalbounty,wealth,andhumanhealth, andarebelievedtobeakintothoseofthegods.Inordertodirecttheirpotent energiespositively,suchelderlywomenmustbeappropriatelyhonored. Eachyear,atthebeginningofanewagriculturalcycle,Geledeperformances areorganizedbythemaleandfemaletitledeldersoftheGeledesociety.While entertaining,andoftenribald,themasqueradesareaserioustributetothe contributionsmadebyelderlywomeninordertomaintainsocialorder,preserve well-being,andreinforceculturalvalues.Numerousmasqueradesappearin sequenceoveratwo-dayperiod.Themaskers,allmale,wearsculptedwooden masksontopoftheirheadsand,insomecases,carvedwoodenbreastsand stomachs.Thetextilesusedfortheircostumesareborrowedclothesoflocal women.Themaskeddancersperforminpairs,offeringsocialandspiritual commentarythroughrolerecognitionandsatire.Theelaboratelychoreographed dancesareaccompaniedbyanorchestraofdrumsandachorusofmaleand femalesingers. TheimageryofthemasksusedinGeledeaddressarangeofsubjectsrelating toallaspectsofYorubasociety.Usually,thebaseofaGeledemaskisahuman face.Thecalmexpressionindicatespatienceandself-control,highlyvalued characteristicsoffemalerolemodels.Theimageryabovethefacemaydepict animals,objects,orhumansthatrefertoaparticularindividualorsituationin thecommunity,oritmayillustrateapopularproverborsong.Suchimagery oftenservesasametaphor,designedtoreinforcepositivebehaviorwithin thecommunity.Inthisexample,oneofanoriginalpair,thefaceisankedby longcurvingsnakesthataredevouringantelopes.Representationsofanimals consumingotheranimalsaredepictedfrequentlyonGeledemasks.Theyare allusionstocompetingspiritualorsocialforcesandencourageother,less destructivemeanstoresolveconict. Thismaskreectsthecreativecollaborationoftwogenerationsofsculptors fromthesameworkshop.ThefacewassculptedbyKetumasterFagbiteAsamu, anartistwhoisrememberedforhisinnovativeGeledecreationswhichincluded movableattachmentsthatcouldbemanipulatedbytheperformer.Onthis example,thehingedextensionsintheformofsnakeswerecarvedbyFagbites son,FalolaEdun,whocompletedtheworkin1971.Theuidformsoftheserpents 19
113 arecomposedofinterlockingsegmentsofwoodsecuredbynails.Becausea premiumisplaceduponinnovationinGeledeperformances,newdesignsare continuallyintroducedintotherepertoryofforms. (PleaseseealsotwoexcerptsfromthelmEfe/GeledeCeremonies among the WesternYoruba ,whichmaybeviewedontheMuseumswebsite.Oneshowsthe sculptorFalolaEduncompletingworkontheGeledemask,whiletheothershows themaskbeingperformed.[Forcompleteinformationontheseexcerpts,seethe VideographyintheSelectedResourcessection.])Discussion Questions1. UnlikemostAfricanwoodsculpture,thisheaddresswascarvedoutof severalpiecesofwood.Howmanydoyousee? 2. Thefacewaswornlikeacapontheperformershead,withlongcurving extensionshangingdownoneachside.Canyouseewhatthese extensionsrepresent?Discussthemeaningofthesnake-eatingantelopeimagery. 3. WhydoGeledemaskedperformerscelebrateelderlywomen?Forfurtherdiscussionexercises,pleaseseeComparisonsforClassroom DiscussionintheClassroomApplicationssection.
115Head of an Oba,ca.1550 Nigeria,kingdomofBenin;Edopeoples Brass;H.91/4in.(23.5cm) TheMichaelC.RockefellerCollection,BequestofNelsonA.Rockefeller,1979(1979.206.86)CastbrassheadssuchasthisonewerecommissionedbythekingsofBeninto beplacedonroyalancestralaltars.ThekingdomofBeninwasastatefounded around1300inthesouthernpartoftodaysNigeria.Itourishedforoverhalfa millenniumledbyasuccessionofdynasticleaders,knownasObas.TheOba, whowasconsideredtobesemidivineduringhislifetime,wasthepoliticaland spiritualleaderofhispeople.Hegovernedacomplexnetworkoflesserchiefs withvariedpolitical,administrative,andritualduties.Uponascendingthethrone, oneoftheObasrstritualdutieswastoestablishanaltarcommemoratingthe lifeandachievementsofthepreviousking,hisfather. TheheadscastinbrassareidealizedrepresentationsoftheindividualObas. Thishead,whichdatestothemid-sixteenthcentury,isamongtheearliest examplesofthegenre,asindicatedbythethincastingandnaturalisticstyle. Laterexamplesaremorestylized,heaviercastings,asmetalbecamemore plentifulthroughtradewithEuropeanmerchants.Here,thefaceissoftly modeled,withbroadnose,generouslips,andeshycheeks.Ironinlaysoriginally lledthepupilsofthelargeeyes,tointensifythegaze;ironwasassociatedwith formidablestrength.TheObascrown,formedofdiagonallywovenstrandsof coralbeadswithlongfringes,andhistieredcoralnecklacearerenderedwith exactingprecision.ThefocusupontheheadtorepresenttheObaissymbolically signicant:inBeninculture,theheadisbelievedtohaveaspecialrolein directinganindividualssuccessinlife.Becausethewelfareoftheentirekingdom isdependentonthekingsguidance,hisheadwasitselfthefocusofritual attention. Placedontheancestralaltar,thebrassheadnotonlycommemoratesa deceasedObabutoffersanenduringreminderofhissuccessfulleadership throughouthisreign.Suchanaltarwasapointofcontactwiththespiritofthe deceasedking,shouldtheObaneedsupportandadvicefromhisancestors. Palaceceremonies,inwhichthecontinuityofdivinekingshipwasreinforced, tookplaceandcontinuetotakeplacetodayinfrontofthesealtars.Located inanopencourtyard,royalancestralaltarsarelow,semicircularmudplatforms. Hollow-castbrassheads,eachsupportingacarvedivorytusk(insertedintothe largeholeontop),wouldbeplacedoneachaltaralongwithotherroyalobjects, includingbrassaltartableausandgurativerepresentations,carvedwooden staffs,brassbells,andceremonialswords.Brassandivory,bothvaluableand durablematerials,symbolizedtheObaspowerandwealth. Historically,theObawastheprincipalpatronoftheartsinBenin.The artistsguildswhichincludedblacksmiths,brasscasters,sculptorsinwood andivory,beadworkersandcostumemakers,andleatherworkersworked 20
117 underhispatronage.Mostoftheartcreatedservedtoglorifytheking,reinforce royalhierarchies,andenhancecourtlife.Traditionalartproductionunder thepatronageofthekingcametoanabruptendin1897,whenBritishtroops destroyedthecapitalcityandlootedthepalace.TodaythekingdomofBenin existsasapoliticalsubdivisionwithinNigeria.Manyofitsritual,political, andartisticactivitiesresumedin1914,whenthesonofthekingexiledin1897 returnedtoBenin.Heirstothistraditioncontinuetorepresenttheirpeopleas culturalleaderswithinthecontemporaryNigerianstate.Discussion Questions1. Discussthefunctionandmeaningofthishead.Whyplaceimagesonlyof headsoftheObasonmemorialaltars? 2. HowistheObaswealthandpowersymbolizedinthishead? 3. Whywereelephantstusksinsertedintothehollowheads? 4. WhatdotheironeyeballssuggestabouttheObascharacter? 5. Noticethecontrastbetweenpatternsandsmoothsurfaces.Whatmaterial dothepatternedareasrepresent?
119Pendant Mask,16thcentury Nigeria,kingdomofBenin;Edopeoples Ivory;H.93/8in.(23.8cm) TheMichaelC.RockefellerMemorialCollection,GiftofNelsonA.Rockefeller,1972 (1978.412.323)ThispendantmaskwascreatedintheearlysixteenthcenturyforanObanamed Esigie,inhonorofhismotherIdia.Thefacehassoftlymodeled,naturalistic features,withgracefulcurvesthatechotheovalshapeofthehead.Fourcarved scaricationmarks,anumberassociatedwithfemales,indicatehergender. IroninlaysforthepupilsandrimsoftheeyesintensifytheQueenMothers authoritativegazeandsuggestherinnerstrength.Thetwoverticaldepressionson herforeheadwerealsoinlaidwithiron.Sheisdepictedwearingachokerofcoral beadsandherhairisarrangedinanelegantcongurationthatresemblesatiara. Theintricatelycarvedopenworkdesignsarestylizedmudshalternatingwith thefacesofPortuguesetraders.BothmotifsareassociatedwiththeObaandhis counterpart,theseagodOlokun.Themudshisacreaturethatlivesbothonland andinwater,andasymbolofthekingsdualnatureasbothhumananddivine. Similarly,thePortuguese,asvoyagersfromacrossthesea,mayhavebeenseen asdenizensofOlokunsrealm.Liketheseagod,theybroughtgreatwealthand powertotheOba. InBeninculture,ivoryholdsbothmaterialandsymbolicvalue.Asaluxury good,ivorywasBeninsprincipalcommercialcommodityandhelpedtoattract Portuguesetraderswho,inturn,broughtwealthtothekingdomintheform ofcopperandcoral.Inaddition,ivoryiswhite,acolorthatsymbolizesritual purityandisalsoassociatedwithOlokun,whoisconsideredtobeasourceof extraordinarywealthandfertility. QueenIdiaishonoredasapowerfulandpoliticallyastutewomanwho providedcriticalassistancetohersonduringthekingdomsbattlestoexpand. Uponthesuccessfulconclusionofthewar,EsigiepaidtributetoIdiaby bestowinguponherthetitleofQueenMother,acustomthathascontinuedwith subsequentrulersuntilthepresenttime.ThetitleofQueenMother,or Iyoba ,is giventothewomanwhobearstheObasrstson,thefuturerulerofthekingdom. Historically,theQueenMotherwouldhavenootherchildrenand,instead,devote herlifetoraisingherson.ObaEsigieissaidtohavewornthemaskasapectoral duringritescommemoratinghismother.Thehollowback,holesaroundthe perimeter,andstoppercomposedofseveraltendrilsofhairatthesummitsuggest thatthemaskfunctionedasanamulet,lledwithspecialandpowerfulmaterials thatprotectedthewearer.Today,suchpendantsarewornatannualceremoniesof spiritualrenewalandpurication. 21
121Discussion Questions1. Whatdoestheexpressiononherfacesuggest?Whatsuggeststhatthisisthe faceofaruler? 2. Whatdotheironinlaysintheeyessignify?Whatshowsthatthisisaqueen, notanOba? 3. Discussthefunctionandmeaningofthisobject. 4. WhatdothedepictionsofPortuguesemerchantsandmudshonhercrown symbolize?Discusstheunusualabilitiesofthemudsh.Howdotheyrelate totheOba? Forfurtherdiscussionexercises,pleaseseeComparisonsforClassroom DiscussionintheClassroomApplicationssection.
123Plaque: Oba on Horseback,ca.1550 1680 Nigeria,kingdomofBenin;Edopeoples Brass;H.191/2in.(49.5cm) TheMichaelC.RockefellerMemorialCollection,GiftofNelsonA.Rockefeller,1965 (1978.412.309)Around1600,aDutchvisitortothecourtofBenindescribedthemagnicent palacecomplex,withitshigh-turretedbuildings,asoneofimmensesizeand strikingbeauty.Inthelong,squaregalleries,woodenpillarswerecoveredfrom toptobottomwithbrassplaques.Castinrelieffromawaxmodel,theplaques weremountedonthepalacepillarsbynailspunchedthroughthecorners.The plaquesdepictedtheObaandvariousmembersofhisretinue,includingwarrior chiefs,titleholders,priests,courtofcials,attendants,andforeignmerchants. Shownsinglyorinsmallgroups,theguresareportrayedinmeticulousdetail, theirroleandstatusindicatedbycostume,ornament,andhairstyle.Onplaques withmultiplegures,thescaleoftheguresdenotestheirpositionwithinBenin courthierarchy.Thelargestoneismostimportant,withothersdecreasinginsize accordingtotheirrelativesignicance. Onthisplaque,aregallydressedObaseatedsidesaddleonahorseis accompaniedbyprominentofcialsandotherattendants.Toemphasizehispower andauthority,theObaispositionedinthecenter,isthelargestgure,andwears hisfullcoralbeadregalia,includingahighcollarofstackednecklacesandcrown ofbeads.AllcoralwasownedbytheObaand,becauseitcomesfromthesea,is associatedwithOlokun,godofthesea.TheObaisattendedbytwosmallergures holdingprotectiveshields.Thesetitledadministrativeofcialswereresponsiblefor palaceprovisionsandforsupplyingceremonialsacrices.Swordbearersoflesser rank,indicatedbytheirsmallersize,supportthekingsoutstretchedarms.Smaller still,andthereforeofleastimportance,arethetwominiaturegureswhohoverin thecornersabovetheObaandtheonewhosupportshisfeet.Thebackgroundis ornamentedby quatrefoil motifsrepresentingriverleaves,anallusiontoOlokun andtheprosperitybroughtacrosstheseasthroughtradewiththePortuguese. InAfricanart,thematerialsareoftenasmeaningfulastheformstheartist givesthem.Becausebrass,analloyofcopperandzinc,wasscarceandcostly, itsusewasdictatedexclusivelybytheOba,whosepossessionandcontrolof brassconnotedhispower,wealth,andauthority.Thedurabilityofthemetalwas ttingforobjectsintendedtobelastingtributestothegreatnessofBeninkings. Theshiny,reddishgoldsurfaceofpolishedbrasswasconsideredbeautifulyet intimidating,anappropriatesymbolforroyalpower. Althoughitisnotknownhowthebrassplaqueswereoriginallyarrangedon thepillars,scholarsgenerallyagreethattheywereconceivedingroups.Bythe endoftheseventeenthcentury,theplaqueswerenolongerusedasdecoration butwerestoredinthepalaceandconsultedonmattersofcourtetiquette, costume,andceremony.Almost900oftheseplaquessurvivetoday,providinga detailedvisualrecordofcourtlife. 22
125Discussion Questions1. HowhastheartistmadetheObastandoutinthisscene? 2. WhatdetailscommunicatetheObaspower? 3. Howisscaleusedtoindicatetherelativeimportanceofeachgure inthisscene?Howdotheseshiftsinscalereectcourthierarchies? 4. WhyaretheheadsoftheObaandthecourtofcialslargecompared totherestoftheiranatomies? 5.Discussthefunctionofplaquessuchasthisandtheidentityofeach oftheguresdepictedhere.Forfurtherdiscussionexercises,pleaseseeComparisonsforClassroom DiscussionintheClassroomApplicationssection.
127Shrine ( Iri ),19th 20thcentury Nigeria,NigerDeltaregion;WesternIjo Wood,paint;H.257/16in.(64.8cm) TheMichaelC.RockefellerMemorialCollection,GiftofMatthewT.MellonFoundation, 1960(1978.412.404)Sculpturalshrines,called iri bytheWesternIjo,arefoundamongthediverse communitiesofpeopleslivingintheNigerDeltaregionofcoastalNigeria.The creationanduseof iri areinformedbythewarriorethosoftheIjo,whoproudly regardthemselvesaswarlikepeople.Theformof iri isnotableforitsrawferocity, conveyedvisuallythroughacombinationofimagerythatevokesbothhuman andanimalelements.Ownedbyanindividual,clan,orfamily,an iri embodies notionsofaggressionandpersonalachievement.Itoffersprotectionagainst violence,whileservingasamenacingreminderoftheownersaccomplishments anddestructivepotential. Thisshrinetakestheformofahumanbeingseatedonastoolontopofa snarling,four-leggedanimal.Theanimalsmassiverectangularheadwithtwo largehorns,gapingmouthframedbyfangs,andbaredteethconveyathreatening demeanor.Thereisnoconsensusonthesourceoftheanimalimagery,which mayincorporatethefeaturesofleopards,hippos,and/orelephants.Onitslegs arehumanheadsorskullswithsimilarlyprominentteeth.Thegureabove representsawarrior,perhapstheowneroftheshrine.Hewearsaheaddresswith fourinvertedhornsandbareshisteeth.Thesharppointedshapesofthehorns andfangsaddtothesenseofaggression.Inhisrighthand,hegraspsacupwith whichhewillpourlibationstotheshrine.Inhisleft,hedisplaysasmallfanthat, alongwithhisseatedpositionandscaricationmarks,symbolizestatusand wealth. Whiletheexactmeaningofsuchimagerymaybeunclear,thefunctionofthe workisunambiguous.Offeringstotheseshrineswerebelievedtocontributeto thesuccessofsuchmaleoccupationsashunting,trade,andwarbyenhancing strengthandferocity.Additionally,libationsweremadetoexpressgratitude forpastsuccessesandprotection.Suchshrinescontinuetobeemployedasa deterrentagainsturbanviolence.Discussion Questions1. Whatisyourreactiontothisimage?Whatareitsthreateningfeatures? 2. Noticethevarietyofgeometricforms.Whatshapesarerepeated? 3. Howwouldyoudescribetheanimalonwhichthismansits? 4. Discussthefunctionofthisobject.Whatdoesthisshrinetellusaboutits owner?Whatwerehisambitions? 23
129Janus-Faced Headdress,19th 20thcentury Nigeria,CrossRiverregion;Ejagham,Akparabongclan Wood,leather,paint,cane,horn,nails;H.21in.(53.3cm) TheMichaelC.RockefellerMemorialCollection,BequestofNelsonA.Rockefeller,1979 (1979.206.299)Skin-coveredheaddressesareownedbyassociationswhosemembershipis denedbyage,sex,vocation,orskill.Theseassociationsincludehunterand warriorsocieties,age-levelgroups,andsocietiesofwealthymenandwomen.The headdressesarewornduringfuneralsandinitiationsofassociationmembersand sometimesusedforceremoniesrelatedtoagriculturalconcerns. Thetechniqueofcoveringcarvedwoodheaddresseswithleatherisuniqueto theareaalongtheCrossRiver,whichstraddlestheborderbetweenthepresentdaynationsofNigeriaandCameroon.Artistsuseantelopeskinsoftenedby alengthysoakinginwater.Theskinisthenstretchedoverthecarvedwooden formandboundandpeggedinplace,whereiteventuallydriesandstiffens.A glossysurfaceisachievedbyrubbingtheheaddresswithpalmoilpriortoits performance.Theperformer,whowearsalonggownofstringnettingorcotton cloth,attachesthebasketrycapoftheheaddresstothetopofhisheadwitha chinstrap.Hisfaceiscoveredwithsemitransparentcloth.Betweenperformances, theheaddressiswrappedandstoredwithgreatcare. Thisexceptionalexamplehasasolidwoodencorecarvedwithtwosimilar facesinopposingdirections,oftenreferredtoasaJanusface.Thestrikingly lifelikefaces,coveredwithleather,haveeyesmadeofseparatepiecesofleather peggedintothenishedpiece.Fourcurvedandribbedantelopehorns,accented withbluepigment,aresetintoholesonthetopofthehead.Painteddesigns ontheforeheadandcheeksofthefacesrepresent nsibidi ,anindigenouswriting systemwhosesymbolsweresometimestattooedonthehumanbody.Multiple levelsofmeaningareattachedtosuchsymbols,knowledgeofwhichisoften restrictedtoassociationmembersofthehigheststatusandrank.Likewise,the Janusfacehasseverallevelsofmeaning.Itconveystheabilitytosimultaneously seewhatisinfrontandbehind,todiscernconnectionsbetweenpastandfuture events,andtoobserveboththehumanandspiritualworlds. 24
131Discussion Questions1. ThetermJanus-facedcomesfromtheRomangodJanus,whowasthe patronofbeginningsandendings.Whatadvantageswouldyouhaveif youcouldseebothinfrontofandbehindyou? 2. Whatdotheexpressionsonthetwofacessuggest? 3. Whatmaterialswereaddedtothewoodbaseofthisheaddress? 4. Themarkingsaresymbolswhosemeaningwouldhavebeenknownonly byhigh-rankingmembersofanassociation.Whywouldtheartistinclude suchmarkings? 5. Whatshapesandoutlinesarerepeatedhere?Whichdetailscontrastwith theoverallroundness?
133Figure of a Chief ( Lefem ),19th 20thcentury Cameroon;Bangwa Wood;H.401/4in.(102.2cm) TheMichaelC.RockefellerMemorialCollection,Purchase,NelsonA.RockefellerGift,1968 (1978.412.576)InthevariousBangwa chiefdom sofwesternCameroon,gurativesculptures, knownas lefem ,arecreatedtocommemorateroyalancestors.Thesemonumental portraitsdepictthechief,orFon,aswellasothermembersoftheroyalfamily. Commissionedduringthelifetimeofthechief,thesculptureswouldbepresented publiclyafterhisdeath,duringfuneralceremonieshonoringtheFonandmarking theinstallationofhissuccessor.Theyweredisplayedinthepalacecourtyard alongwithothercommemorativeportraitsofrulersfrompreviousgenerations. Viewedtogether,thesesculpturesdocumentdynasticlinesofleadershipand serveasvisualremindersoftheFonslegacy. ThisdynamicgureofaBangwaFonemphasizesthepower,wealth,and privilegeofhisposition.Thecaphewearsrepresentsatypeofprestigehat thatiswovenanddecoratedwithknottedtuftsofyarn.Aroundhisneckisan elaboratecollarofleopardsclaws,asymboloftherulersstrength.TheFonis depictedholdingotherofcialinsigniaofritualimportance.Inhisrighthandis abeadedcalabash,acontainerforpalmwine;inhisleftisalong-stemmedpipe forsmokingtobacco.Palmwineandtobaccowerebelievedtohavelife-giving propertieswhoseconsumptionreinforcedtheFonspower.Theguresdynamic stance,withhisheadturningonewayandthelowerbodyanother,isunusualin Africansculpture.Hisbentlegs,exedarms,largebulgingeyes,andopenmouth furthersuggestthatthepotentenergyoftheFonremainsevenafterhisdeath.Discussion Questions1. Howisthepowerofthischiefexpressedvisually?Whatfeatureshas thesculptorexaggerated?Why? 2. Discussthefunctionofsculpturelikethis. 3. Thekingholdstwoobjectsthat,itwasbelieved,wouldfuelhislifeforce. Canyouidentifythem?(Seealsoimage26.) 4. Comparethisgurewithotherstandingguresinthispublication. Whatisdifferentaboutthepose? 25
135Palm-Wine Container,19th 20thcentury Cameroon;Grasselds Gourd,glassbeads,cloth,cane;H.30in.(76.2cm) Purchase,GiftsinmemoryofBryceHolcombe,1986(1986.336a,b)OfthemanyritualitemsinaGrasseldskingdomsroyaltreasury,beadembroideredcalabashesareamongthemostimportant.Thesecontainerswere usedexclusivelybytheFon(chief)tostorepalmwineservedonceremonial occasions(g.4).Theritualconsumptionofpalmwinewasconsideredasacred activityandreinforcedtheFonsspiritualandpoliticalpower.Palmwinewasalso anessentialcomponentofsacriciallibationstotheancestors. Thisexamplefeaturesalong-neckedcalabashattachedtoatallcylindrical basketrybase.Thecarvedwoodstopperhastwohornedanimalheadsfacing opposingdirectionsandathirdanimalheadpointingupward,symbolsofallseeingpowers.Theentireassemblageiscoveredwithclothembroideredwith strandsoftranslucentandopaqueglassbeadsthatformintricateandcolorful circular,diamond-shaped,andzigzagpatterns. Theseabstractgeometricmotifssymbolizeattributesofroyalpower.The circularmedallionssurroundingthesphericalbodyrefertotheearthspider,a symbolofsupernaturalwisdomandcommunication.Becausethistypeofspider burrowsintheearth,itisbelievedtohavetheabilitytounitehumans,wholive abovetheground,withtheancestorswhoareburiedbelow.Diamond-shaped motifsonthestopperandonthesidesandbottomrimofthestandrepresentthe frog,asymboloffertilityandincrease.Theirpresenceonthecontainerconveys theideathat,withthesupportofmanypeople,apeacefulandprosperous kingdomispossible. RulersthroughoutthemanykingdomsintheGrasseldsregionofwestern Cameroonemployedarangeofartobjectstoasserttheirpolitical,economic, andreligiouspower.Presentedpubliclyinlavishdisplaysofwealthandpower, manycourtobjectsweredistinguishedbytheirelaboratebeadembroidery. ImportedfromEurope,beadswereconsideredaluxurymaterialwhoseuseand distributionwerecontrolledbytheFon.Thedecorationofwoodensculpturewith vastquantitiesofbrilliantlycoloredbeadstransformedutilitarianobjects,such asstools,vessels,andpipes,intosymbolsofroyalstatusandprestige. 26Fig. 4. ChiefofBabungo withattendants,oneholding apalm-winecontainer, Cameroon.Photographby PaulGebauer,1938.
137Discussion Questions1. Withwhatisthesurfaceofthiscontainercovered? 2. Howdoesthedecorationofthis,andotherobjectsintheroyaltreasury, reectthewealthandstatusoftheruler? 3. Howmanypatternscanyouidentify?Inwhatwaysdothesepatterns reinforcethethree-dimensionalformofthecontainer?Whatforms decoratethestopper? 4. Discussthesymbolicsignicanceoftheabstractanimalforms.Forfurtherdiscussionexercises,pleaseseeComparisonsforClassroom DiscussionintheClassroomApplicationssection.
139Reliquary Figure ( Nlo Byeri ),19th 20thcentury Gabon;Fang Wood,metal,oil;H.251/4in.(64.1cm) TheMichaelC.RockefellerMemorialCollection,GiftofNelsonA.Rockefeller,1965 (1978.412.441)TheFangpeoplesofGabonbelievedthatancestralrelicsheldgreatspiritual power.ByeriwasaFangassociationdevotedtothe veneration oflineage ancestorsandfounders,leaders,andfertilewomenwhomadesignicant contributionstosocietyduringtheirlifetime.Afterdeath,theirrelics,particularly theskull,wereconservedincylindricalbarkcontainersandguardedbycarved woodenheadsorguresmountedatopthereceptacles(g.5). Thelustrousblacksurfaceofthiscarvedfemalegurestillglistensfrom repeatedapplicationsofpalmoilusedforritualpurication.Thesculptor shaped thisguretoillustratetheabilitytoholdoppositesinbalance,a qualityadmiredbytheFang.Hejuxtaposedthelargeheadofaninfantwiththe developedbodyofanadult.Thestaticposeandexpressionlessfacecontrastwith thepalpabletensionofthebulgingmusclesandtheprojectingformsofthearms, legs,andbreasts. Thesereliquarysculpturesmaybemaleorfemaleandarenotconsidered portraitsofthedeceased.Theywereoftendecoratedwithgiftsofjewelryor feathersandreceivedritualofferingsoflibations,suchaspalmoil.Onthe occasionofinitiationintoByeri,thegureswereremovedfromtheircontainers andmanipulatedlikepuppetsinperformancesthatdramatizedtheraisingofthe deadfordidacticpurposes. Duringtheearlytwentiethcentury,Fangreliquarysculpturebegantobe acquiredbyWesterncollectors,whoadmiredtheinspiredinterpretationofthe humanform.Thisparticularworkwasformerlyinthecollectionsoftwowellknownmodernistartists,thepainterAndrDerainandthesculptorJacobEpstein.Discussion Questions1. Describetheshapesoftheguresbody.Whichonesareexaggerated? Whatdoestheposeofthelegsandarmssuggest? 2. TheideaofoppositesinbalanceexempliesFangsocialideals.How doesthissculpturegivevisualformtotheideaofoppositesinbalance? (Noticethecontrastbetweenthefaceandbody,andbetweenbalanced poseandbulgingmuscles.)Makealistofoppositesyoucanidentify. 3. Discussthefunctionofthisobjectaswellasitssurfacesheen. 27 Fig. 5. Figuressittingatop reliquarycontainers,southern Cameroon.PhotographbyHans Gehne,ca.1913.
141Crucix, 16th early 17th century Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola; Kongo Brass; H. 10 3/4 in. (27.3 cm) Gift of Ernst Anspach, 1999 (1999.295.7)When Portuguese explorers rst arrived at the mouth of the Zaire River in 1483, the Kongo kingdom was thriving and prosperous, with extensive commercial networks between the coast, interior, and equatorial forests to the north. Portugal and Kongo soon established a strong trading partnership. In addition to material goods, the Portuguese also brought Christianity, which was rapidly adopted by Kongo rulers and established as the state religion in the early sixteenth century by King Afonso Mvemba a Nzinga. The adoption of Christianity allowed Kongo kings to foster international alliances not only with Portuguese leaders but also with the Vatican. In response to their new faith, Kongo craftsmen began to introduce Christian iconography into their artistic repertoire. This crucix demonstrates how Kongo artists adapted and transformed Western Christian prototypes. Although the general depiction of the central Christ gure with arms extended follows Western conventions, the features of the face are African. The presence of four smaller gures with clasped handstwo seated on the top edges of the cross, one at the apex, and one at the baseis a departure from standard iconography. These gures are more abstract and remote, in contrast to the expressionistic treatment of Christ. Western forms like the crucix resonated profoundly with preexisting Kongo religious practices. In Kongo belief, the cross was already regarded as a powerful emblem of spirituality and a metaphor for the cosmos. An icon of a cross within a circle, referred to as the Four Moments of the Sun, represents the four parts of the day (dawn, noon, dusk, and night) that symbolize more broadly the cyclical journey of life. Kongo kings, having adopted Christianity as the state religion, commissioned locally made crucixes for use as emblems of leadership and power. These crucixes were cast with copper alloys. The use of copper, a valued import from Europe, reinforced the association with wealth and power. Although Christianity was eventually rejected by the Kongo in the seventeenth century, such works continued to be made as symbols of indigenous cosmological concepts.Discussion Questions1.Which gure in the composition is most important? Explain. How do the four smaller gures relate to the larger central gure? 2.Besides being a Christian symbol, what other symbolic meanings might a cross have? 3.Why would copper alloy crucixes continue to be valued by Kongo leaders after the rejection of Christianity? 28
143Seated Figure ( Tumba ), 19th 20th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Kongo, Bambona Steatite; H. 16 1/4 in. (41.3 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1968 (1978.412.573)In the Boma region of Democratic Republic of Congo, Kongo peoples placed carved stone gures representing important individuals on their graves to remember their deeds in life. These gures are characterized by their wide range of gestures and postures. They are also distinguished by their use of stone, unusual in sub-Saharan Africa, where most carving traditions are based on wood. The association of stone with the concept of permanence makes it appropriate for use in commemorative funerary statuary. The person commemorated in this example, made of steatite was probably a ruler or noble. He wears a royal cap and a necklace, which symbolize rank and leadership. He sits cross-legged, left hand at his waist and right supporting his large, slightly tilted head. Downcast eyes imply deep thought, while his faint smile suggests serenity and calm. The gure appears closed in on the right side by its large arm. In contrast, the angular pose of the shorter left arm opens up the gures form. Kongo commentators describe this cross-legged seated posture as funda nkata a position that emphasizes balance, composure, and reection. On a symbolic level, the circular shape formed by the crossed legs refers to the unfolding cycle of an individuals life. Embodying responsible and wise leadership, the sculpture presents an ideal image of the deceased that illustrates the Kongo dictum: I seat myself nobly, upon the circle of my life, weighing what is going on.Discussion Questions1.What does the expression on the face suggest? And the pose? 2.Discuss the function of stone sculpture like this. Why would the artist use stone? What mood do the downcast eyes evoke? And the faint smile? 3.Consider the Kongo dictum I seat myself nobly, upon the circle of life, weighing what is going on. How does this gure give visual form to this saying? 4.What details suggest this gure was a leader? Why is the size of the head exaggerated? 29
145 30 Fig. 6. Postcard of a Vili diviner ( nganga ), a ritual practitioner in Loango, French Congo. Photograph by P. A., ca. 1900.Power Figure ( Nkisi nkondi ), 19th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Kongo Wood, iron, glass, terracotta, shells, cloth, ber, paint, seeds, beads; H. 28 1/2 in. (72.4 cm) The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman, in honor of Douglas Newton, 1990 (1990.334)This large gure was carved by a Kongo sculptor for a ritual practitioner, who transformed the object into a vehicle of spiritual communication. Its posefeet planted rmly, hands on hips, and head tilted upwardsuggests heightened awareness and readiness. However, the gure could not fulll its function until the ritual practitioner activated it with spiritually charged ingredients (g. 6). These included certain earths associated with the ancestors and their supernatural abilities as well as other organic materials, the names of which reference attributes that can heighten the gures effectiveness. The ritual practitioner packed these sacred substances into the rectangular box inserted into the gures abdomen, a bodily site that the Kongo consider the source of life and personal achievement. He inserted other empowering ingredients, such as dogs and leopards teeth, into the gures clay hat. Pieces of glass mirror, over the rectangular box and inlaid in the eyes, serve to deect malevolent forces, while the white clay covering the face refers to the realm of the ancestral spirits from which the gure derives its powers. The gures protruding tongue refers to the Kongo word venda meaning to lick in order to activate medicines, implying that the gure is continually activated. The Kongo refer to such power objects as nkisi They are used by ritual practitioners to solve the problems of the community. This example is an especially powerful type of nkisi that is associated with moral judgment. Known as nkisi nkondi its purpose was to identify and hunt down wrongdoers, such as witches, thieves, and adulterers ( nkondi means hunter). Each time the gures powers were called upon, a ritual expert would insert an iron blade, spike, or nail. The variously shaped bits of metal covering the body provide a visual history of its use, its surface continually added to with each invocation. Many of the blades are identied as baaku a type of knife used in palm wine extraction. The similarity of this word to baaka meaning to demolish or destroy, is a deliberate visual pun that relates to the gures function of destroying evil within the community.Discussion Questions1.What is your reaction to this gure? Note the pose and expression. What words would you use to describe the gures attitude? 2.How many materials have been added to the basic wood form? What ideas do they symbolize? 3.Discuss the function of power gures.For further discussion exercises, please see Comparisons for Classroom Discussion in the Classroom Applications section.
147 31 Chair ( Ngumdja ), 19th 20th century Angola; Chokwe Wood, brass tacks, leather; H. 39 in. (99.1 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1970 (1978.412.619)This chair or throne was one of the principal symbols of the authority of a Chokwe chief. The Chokwe state was founded in the sixteenth century, when nobles from the neighboring Lunda empire migrated to northern Angola and asserted their rule over local peoples. As the state grew in wealth and power, so too did the Chokwe chiefs, who emphasized the divine nature of their ancestry. The political and religious importance of the chiefs was underscored through the creation of lavishly carved utilitarian objects, including staffs, tobacco mortars, combs, and chairs, that served as insignia of rank and prestige. This chair was modeled on a type of European chair that was imported into the area by Portuguese ofcials beginning in the seventeenth century. Having previously used caryatid stools as seats of ofce, Chokwe chiefs adopted the chair as a symbol of their authority because the form was associated with powerful foreigners. Like its European prototype, the Chokwe chair was made from several pieces of wood joined together, rather than a single block of wood typical of African carving traditions. Aspects of the chair are European in derivation, such as the leather-covered seat and decorative brass tacks, an imported luxury. However, Chokwe artisans incorporated the style and iconography of their established sculptural traditions. On this example, the backrest is topped on either side by a carved head wearing a chiefs headdress, while in the center, two birds drink from a shared vessel. Rows of gures along the rungs and back splats depict characters and scenes from both everyday and ceremonial life. Here, images of hunting, trade, and domestic activities are juxtaposed with representations of ritual events, such as initiation and masquerades. Together, the scenes describe an ordered and harmonious society over which the chief presides.Discussion Questions1.What kind of person would have sat in this chair? 2.Why would a ruler want so many kinds of people represented on his chair? 3.How did the carver arrange the small gures? What forms are repeated? How would you describe the overall design? 4.Discuss the European origin of this kind of seating.For further discussion exercises, please see Comparisons for Classroom Discussion in the Classroom Applications section.
149Mask, 19th 20th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Yaka Wood, cane, rafa, pigment, cloth; H. 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.235)This mask was created to be worn during the initiation ceremonies of Yaka boys (g. 7). It is composed of a carved wooden face with rafa collar attached to a basketry framework covered with ber cloth. A four-legged beast crouches at the summit. Its outstretched ber arms with carved wooden hands extend toward the face, which has exaggerated features. Enormous protruding circular eyes, a long nose, fangs, and cocked ears convey a sense of extraordinary curiosity and energy. Among the Yaka, the institution responsible for initiation of boys into manhood is called nkhanda In the past, boys resided within an initiation camp, located outside the village, for a training period of one to three years. Today, these initiations last approximately a week and provide historical, social, and religious instruction. The boys also undergo a number of physical ordeals, including circumcision, culminating in their symbolic death as children and rebirth as men. Throughout their seclusion and upon conclusion of their training, members of nkhanda present a variety of masked performances. The masks are believed to offer protection to the boys during the period of physical and spiritual vulnerability. They also serve to introduce important Yaka moral and social precepts as well as to entertain. Historically, these masks were destroyed at the end of the initiation period. Although the specic meaning of the imagery is unclear, Yaka masks generally illustrate ideas about gender differences, translating song lyrics that focus on male and female social responsibilities into visual form. On this mask, for example, the bulging eyes are round like the moon, relating to lunar cycles and, indirectly, alluding to the role of women.Discussion Questions1.How would you describe the creature on top of this mask? 2.Besides educating boys, why might this mask also have been worn to entertain? 3.What materials have been added to the wooden shape? 4.Discuss traditional initiations and the functions of masks like this one. 32 Fig. 7. Masked performance as part of a Yaka nkhanda initiation ceremony. Photograph by Eliot Elisofon, 1951.
151Prestige Panel, 19th 20th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Kuba Rafa; 20 1/4 x 45 3/4 in. (51.4 x 116.2 cm) Gift of William B. Goldstein M.D., 1999 (1999.522.15)This double panel of rafa cloth with cut-pile embroidery was created to serve as a prestige item in Kuba society. The Kuba kingdom has a complex political structure composed of independent chiefdoms under the central authority of a king. It was founded in the early seventeenth century by Shyaam a-Mbul a Ngoong, a ruler who brought together some seventeen different ethnic groups into a unied polity. Shyaam is recalled as a dynamic and innovative leader who introduced a number of important Kuba artistic traditions, including lavish woven and embroidered textiles made of rafa. In fact, the Kuba founding ruler is said to have identied so closely with the patronage of these textiles that he adopted the term for rafa palm, shyaam as his name. In this complex composition, each panel features a large central interlacing motif against a diamond-patterned background. The dense patterns have been embroidered with strands of dyed rafa ber that are cut close to the surface, creating a soft, velvety texture. Varying in both tone and texture, the patterns project dramatically from the gold eld. The preparation, production, and design of Kuba rafa textiles require the collaborative efforts of both men and women. Men are responsible for cultivating rafa palm trees and collecting the outer layers of the fronds, which yield ber strands. They weave these strands on a vertical heddle loom into panels of cloth (g. 8). Individual woven units, known as mbala are softened and rened to a linenlike texture by pounding. These at-woven panels may then be decorated and stitched together to form garments. Women assemble and decorate their own skirts, which can be up to nine yards in length. Men fashion their skirts, which can be of greater length and have a border of rafa tufts. Both genders employ a range of decorative processes, including dying, appliqu, embroidery, and patchwork, although some distinctive techniques, such as openwork and cutpile, are practiced only by women. The completed garments are worn differently: women wrap the skirt around their bodies, while men gather the cloth around their hips, secured by a belt with the top folded over. Some rafa cloth, like this panel, was not fashioned into garments, but was displayed instead as prestige items. In the past, individual panels of rafa textiles were used as objects of exchange in nancial, legal, and even marital transactions. They were also displayed and offered as memorial gifts during funerals, as an indication of the deceaseds importance as well as the generosity of the surviving family members. Today, despite the availability of machinemade cotton cloth, rafa textiles are still regarded as the only kind of garment appropriate to adorn the body of the deceased. An important individual may be buried dressed in multiple layers of rafa skirts, often family treasures passed down through generations. 33Fig. 8. A Northern Kete man cutting a completed unit of rafa cloth ( mbala ) off a loom. Photograph by Patricia Darish, 1981.
153Discussion Questions1.What patterns are repeated in the design? How did the textile designer achieve variation within each pattern? 2.Why would a textile panel like this one be highly valued? 3.Discuss the technique of creating these rafa textiles and how it involved the collaboration of both men and women.
155Stool, late 19th century Attributed to the Buli Master, possibly known as Ngongo ya Chintu Democratic Republic of Congo; Luba Wood, metal studs; H. 24 in. (61 cm) Purchase, Buckeye Trust and Charles B. Benenson Gifts, Rogers Fund and funds from various donors, 1979 (1979.290)Sculpted seats are among the most important insignia of ofce used exclusively by Luba rulers, including kings, chiefs, and the heads of clans or lineages. A royal stool is believed to serve as a receptacle for a rulers spirit. It therefore holds great symbolic value as the repository and wellspring of sacred kingship. Such seats, part of the ensemble of regalia that constitutes a Luba treasury, are an integral part of the investiture ceremony establishing a rulers political authority. Except for these rare ceremonial occasions, the royal stool was wrapped in cloth and safeguarded by a specially designated ofcial. This gurative example is supported by a standing female gure whose high status is indicated by her elaborate four-lobed coiffure and intricate raised scarication patterns on her torso, both front and back. The depiction of women on royal stools acknowledges their important political and symbolic roles in Luba society. Historically, female royals were often married to chiefs in outlying areas, helping to expand and unify the kingdom. Because the Luba trace succession and inheritance through the female line, such marriages established important bonds of kinship and allegiance. The imagery of the female supporting the stool symbolizes the fact that the chief or king inherits the right to rule through his female ancestors. Luba leaders owned a series of items of regalia depicting female gures which referred to the female body as a receptacle for the spiritual power of divine kingships. This royal ceremonial stool was created by an artist known as the Buli Master, celebrated for the distinctive formal structure and emotional appeal of his sculptures. His extraordinary artistic legacy is a corpus of about twenty stylistically related works, all demonstrating a unique expressionism. Lacking the youthful idealism more commonly seen in African sculpture, this gure has an elongated face with prominent cheekbones, arching brows, half-closed eyes set in sunken sockets, a high rounded forehead, and pursed lips. Her body is small and stooped, suggesting that the seat weighs heavily upon her. These features create a sense of sadness or suffering not typically seen in African sculpture, which tends to be fairly emotionless. The Buli Master, named after a village in the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo where some of his works were acquired, is believed to have been active in the midto late nineteenth century. The sculptor has created a dynamic formal composition, building in volume and complexity from the base to the top. Her large feet, barely raised from the base of the stool, provide the foundation for the stools vertical support formed by her short sturdy legs, torso, and large oval head. The seat rests upon her coiffure and the tips of her ngers. The sense that she bears a heavy burden is reinforced by exaggerated attened hands. 34
157 All royal stools are conceived of as replicas of an original seat of ofce given to the Luba king Kalala Ilunga. The Luba kingdom was said to have been founded by Kalala Ilunga, a heroic prince who overthrew his despotic uncle to establish a new dynasty of divine rulers. Leaders of the various Luba chiefdoms in the area have historically traced their descent from this founding ruler. Their exalted position within this sacred line of succession is expressed materially by the possession of royal insignia designed to bolster chiey authority.Discussion Questions1.Why did the artist exaggerate the size of the womans head and hands? Does the head communicate something about the womans character? How do the hands function in the design of the stool? 2.How would you describe the womans expression and her posture? Is she old or young? Discuss the distinctive style of the Buli Master. 3.What details indicate that this is a woman of high status? Why is an elite female depicted as supporting a male ruler? Discuss the symbolism of rulers stools in a matrilineal society.For further discussion exercises, please see Comparisons for Classroom Discussion in the Classroom Applications section.
159Harp, 19th 20th century Democratic Republic of Congo; Mangbetu Wood, hide, twine, brass ring; H. 26 1/2 in. (67.3 cm) The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1960 (1978.412.412)In northern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Mangbetu peoples established an inuential centralized kingdom that reached its apex of power during the second half of the nineteenth century. Mangbetu aristocrats surrounded themselves with a variety of nely crafted utilitarian objects, including boxes, stools, weapons, and musical instruments. The opulence of the kingdom captured the attention of European visitors to the region, who described Mangbetu court life and its artistic traditions in glowing terms. This musical instrument, with freestanding strings that rise in a horizontal plane from its belly to neck, is a harp. The curved neck ends in a nely carved head with partially open mouth, as if in song. The wooden sound box is covered with carefully stitched animal hide. When playing the harp, a musician sat with the sound box on his lap and the neck pointing away from him. He held the neck with his left hand and plucked the strings with both. The harp player adjusted the tone of each string by turning the tuning pegs set in the harps neck. Harp players performed for the entertainment of community groups and, as they played, sang about events in their travels and heroic deeds of the past. The presence of a carved head on this harp may reect an African response to Western aesthetic taste and patronage. In the colonial period, Europeans began to commission sculpture from local Mangbetu artists, expanding the demand for such works. Fascinated by the bound and elongated heads once common among the Mangbetu (g. 9), European patrons encouraged artists to include human forms on objects that were previously nongurative. Although popular as gifts to visiting foreign dignitaries, these gurative objects were rarely commissioned for local use and their production eventually ceased.Discussion Questions1.How does the form of the harp echo the forms of the human body? 2.What does the expression on the face suggest? What does it tell us about Mangbetu ideals of beauty? Discuss the elite style of head deformation and extraordinary coiffure. 3.Discuss the inuence of European taste in the design of this musical instrument. 35 Fig. 9. Mangbetu woman, ca. 1926. Photograph by Casimir dOstoja Zagourski.
161Apron ( Ijogolo ), 19th 20th century South Africa; Ndebele Leather, beads, thread; H. 29 3/4 in. (75.6 cm) Gift of J. Camp, 1980 (1980.328)This ve-paneled garment is known as an ijogolo a bridal apron worn by Ndebele women. Upon marriage, the grooms family traditionally gave the bride a plain leather or canvas apron with ve aps. The newly married Ndebele woman embroidered that apron, creating bold geometric designs with imported glass beads. She would wear this apron on important ceremonial occasions to signify her married status (g. 10). The multiple panels, referred to as calves, symbolize the future children the woman will bear. Throughout southern Africa, peoples wear beaded garments that comment upon their stage in life and convey aspects of their individual identity. Different types of beaded artifacts may communicate social and marital status, number of children, and a persons home region or ethnicity. Although the historical origins of southern African beadwork are uncertain, it is known that glass beads from Europe were available in the area as early as the sixteenth century through trade with the Portuguese. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the region became the worlds largest consumer of glass beads. Dating beaded works is difcult, although the color and size of the beads, the patterns and motifs, and the material used can all provide some indication of age. Older works typically have leather backings and use mostly small, white beads with minimal color designs, as in this example.Discussion Questions1.Discuss the function of aprons in Ndebele societies. 2.What does the fancy beadwork tell us about the young woman who created it? 3.What patterns and color contrasts did she repeat? 4.Why would such aprons be worn only on ceremonial occasions? What would a Ndebele woman want to communicate to other people in her community when she wore this apron? 36 Fig. 10. A married Ndebele woman wearing a beaded bridal apron. Photograph by John B. Kramer, 1971
163 37 Page from an Illuminated Gospel (The Ascension), early 15th century Ethiopia, Lake Tana region Wood, vellum, pigment; H. 16 1/2 in. (41.9 cm) Rogers Fund, 1998 (1998.66)This full-page illumination is one of twenty-four from a manuscript of the Gospel that reects Ethiopias longstanding Christian heritage. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was established in the fourth century by King Ezana (r. 320 350). He adopted Christianity as the ofcial state religion of Aksum, a kingdom located in the highlands of present-day Ethiopia. As the Christian state expanded over the centuries, monasteries were founded throughout the region. These became important centers of learning and artistic production, as well as inuential outposts of state power. The manuscript was created at a monastic center near Lake Tana in the early fteenth century. It is composed of 178 leaves of vellum bound between acacia wood covers. The illuminations depict scenes from the life of Christ and portraits of the Evangelists. This text and its pictorial format are based upon manuscripts produced by the Coptic Church. Here, however, these prototypes are transformed into local forms of expression. For example, the imagery is two-dimensional and linear, which is characteristic of Ethiopian painting. Additionally, the text is inscribed not in its original Greek, but in Geez, the ancient liturgical language of Ethiopia. Geez is one of the worlds oldest writing systems and is the foundation of todays Amharic, Ethiopias national language. In this depiction of the Ascension of Christ into heaven, he appears framed in a red circle at the summit, surrounded by the four beasts of the Evangelists. Below, Mary and the Apostles gesture upward. The stylistic conventions seen here, such as the abbreviated denition of facial features and boldly articulated gures, are consistent throughout the manuscript, suggesting the hand of a single artist. The artist depicts the gures heads frontally and their bodies frequently in prole. The use of red, yellow, green, and blue as the predominant color scheme is typical of Ethiopian manuscripts from this period. The images were intended to be viewed during liturgical processions. The Gospels were considered among the most holy of Christian texts by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Such manuscripts were often commissioned by wealthy patrons for presentation as gifts to churches. While the text demonstrated the erudition of its monastic creator, the elaborate ornamentation reected the prestige of the benefactors. Many works of Ethiopian art were destroyed by Islamic incursions during the sixteenth century, making this manuscript a rare survivor.
165Discussion Questions1.How does the artist communicate which of the gures are most important? 2.What kind of composition is this? How are the gures arranged? 3.How is a feeling of vertical motion created? Who is the gure depicted in the circle above? 4.Do the gures seem to be standing in a real setting or out of time and place? Explain. Why is this appropriate to the subject?For further discussion exercises, please see Comparisons for Classroom Discussion in the Classroom Applications section.
167 38 Textile Mantle ( Lamba Mpanjaka ), 1998 Martin Rakotoarimanana (b. 1963) Madagascar; Malagasy (Merina) Silk; H. 108 in. (274.3 cm) Purchase, Rogers Fund and William B. Goldstein Gift, 1999 (1999.102)Situated in the Indian Ocean just off the east coast of Africa, the unique island cultures of the Malagasy peoples emerged from a conuence of African, Asian, and Arab origins. While sharing a common heritage, their diversity nds expression in the variety of hand-woven textiles that have long been produced on the island. Among the most celebrated of Malagasy textile traditions is silk cloth produced by Merina weavers in the central highlands since precolonial times. Historically, such brilliantly colored and intricately patterned textiles were made by female weavers from dyed silk thread purchased from Arab and Indian traders. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the silk was locally grown. Weavers create the textile on a horizontal, xed heddle loom with a continuous weft and warp using a technique called akotofahana Geometric designs were created by adding supplementary weft threads that oat over the woven ground. These motifs, which may derive from plant and animal imagery, use color and pattern combinations to dazzling effect. Merina silk textiles were highly regarded for their durability, sheen, and warmth. Privileged classes of Merina society wore the cloth as lamba a type of mantle that is draped around the shoulders or over the body. In death, the cloths served as funerary shrouds for these nobles. The value and prestige associated with akotofahana textiles was such that they were also given as gifts to foreign dignitaries. The tradition of weaving elaborately patterned silk textiles was abandoned by the late nineteenth century, with the increasing importation of less costly European textiles. A century later, however, nely worked akotofahana is again being produced in the central highlands of Madagascar. In the 1990s, a group of Merina weavers based in Antananarivo began to create silk textiles, often replicating historic nineteenth-century designs of textiles in museum collections, such as the British Museum. The extraordinary example here was made by Imerina master Martin Rakotoarimanana in 1998 as part of this contemporary revival.Discussion Questions1.Discuss the traditional functions of Merina silk textiles. 2.What is the overall effect of scale, color, and pattern? How are the patterns arranged? What shapes are repeated over and over again? 3.Are there any recognizable plant or animal forms within the geometric patterns? 4.Why might contemporary artists want to revive the tradition of weaving Merina silk textiles?
169 39 Untitled Portrait, 1956 57, printed 1995 Seydou Keta (1923 2001) Bamako, Mali Gelatin silver print; 15 3/8 x 21 3/4 in. (39.1 x 55.2 cm) Purchase, Joseph and Ceil Mazer Foundation Inc. Gift, 1997 (1997.364)Commercial studio portrait photography was introduced in Mali in the 1930s and developed into a thriving industry in Bamako, the capital city, during the postwar period. Bamakos rapid economic development and accompanying population boom fueled demand for photographic portraits. Such photographs were commissioned by members of the growing middle class as mementos to be displayed on the walls of their homes or sent to faraway family members. Among the busiest portrait studios in Bamako was that of photographer Seydou Keta. Born in 1923, Keta originally apprenticed as a carpenter but found his vocational calling when he was given a 6 x 9 Kodak Brownie camera by his uncle. After experimenting on his own, Keta learned darkroom techniques from two established commercial photographers. He opened his own studio in 1948 in Bamako-Koura, an area of the city whose proximity to a train station and popular marketplace ensured a steady stream of potential clients. Keta soon became highly successful as a commercial photographer, producing tens of thousands of portraits over the course of his career. He developed a consistent and recognizable signature style that proved popular with local clients, who requested that their prints include a stamp with Ketas name. A typical sitting took place during the day in his outside courtyard and could last up to an hour. Keta gave his sitters the opportunity to individualize their portraits, helping them select a attering pose and offering a variety of accessories as props. He posed his clients against a printed cloth, which often resulted in vibrant juxtapositions between the patterns of the sitters clothes and that of the backdrop. Other compositional strategies included the use of a shallow depth of eld and an emphasis on repetition and symmetry in framing his subject. In this portrait, a woman reclines on her side with a relaxed and self-possessed dignity. The tight cropping places the focus entirely on the sitter, while the camera angle makes her appear on a slightly tilted slope, creating a symmetrical composition. The oral print of the womans boubou (a traditional form of dress) contrasts with the bold black and white checkered blanket in the foreground and the swirling arabesques of the cloth backdrop, creating a syncopated clash of patterns and rhythms. Her dress and pose communicate signicant aspects of her identity, revealing how traditional concepts of portraiture are maintained and modied through the medium of photography. Her head wrap is worn in a trendy style called la Gaulle, its jaunty angle framing the scarication marks of ethnic afliation that she bears on her forehead. She rests her left arm casually at her waist, dangling her long slender ngers, which are considered a sign of high social standing.
171 When Mali won independence from France in 1962, Keta was offered a position as ofcial government photographer, where he remained until 1977. His governmental responsibilities required him to close his studio in 1964 and he never reopened his portrait practice, although he did continue his photography. Beginning in the 1990s, Ketas work was included in several exhibitions in the United States and Europe, bringing him considerable fame in the international art world.Discussion Questions1. Do the many patterns enhance or detract our ability to focus on the sitter? 2. In what ways does this artwork combine traditional and modern culture? 3. How is a portrait such as this a collaboration between the photographer and the sitter?
173 40 Untitled (Vessel), 1997 Magdalene Odundo (b. 1950) Red clay; H. 19 3/4 in. (50.2 cm) Purchase, The Katcher Family Foundation Inc. Gift, and Gift of Susan Dwight Bliss, by exchange, 1998 (1998.328)The contemporary ceramic vessels of Kenyan-born artist Magdalene Odundo embody the diverse formal and functional sources that have inspired the artist. Initially trained as a graphic artist, Odundo moved in 1971 to London and enrolled as a student at the Royal College of Art. An interest in the possibilities of clay as a medium led her to return to Africa to study various pottery-making techniques in Nigeria and Kenya. There, she observed women potters handbuilding and ring vessels using techniques passed down for generations. Odundo also examined the pottery traditions of San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico, where women produce highly polished blackware ceramics. While absorbing these experiences, Odundo has developed her own technique and style. Like traditional potters, she hand-builds her vessel, shaping the clay without the aid of a potters wheel (g. 11). When the clay has dried, she burnishes the vessel, covers it with slip, and burnishes it again. Initial ring in a gas kiln results in an orange-red color. Vessels are often red again, this time using wood fuel in an oxygen-reduced atmosphere, imparting a surface that is partially or completely blackened. Odundos vessels may be described as variations on a theme, in which subtle modications of form have great aesthetic impact. Certain shapesa swelling bowl, nipple-like protrusionsare suggestive of the female body. This long-necked vessel has softly bulging contours that express a sense of fullness. Dramatic striations of color are the unexpected result of the unpredictable nature of Odundos ring technique. Please see also a nine-minute video, CeramicGestures:AConversation with MagdaleneOdundo produced in conjunction with the exhibition CeramicGestures:NewVessels by MagdaleneOdundo (For complete information on this video, see the Videography in the Resources section.)Discussion Questions1.What do the curving shapes suggest? 2.What are some techniques an artist can use when working in clay to create such shapes? What level of skill does an artist need to achieve this? 3.What is the effect of the color? Fig. 11. Magdelene Odundo working in her studio. Photograph by Stephen Brayne.
175 Lesson Plan Animals in African ArtLevelUpper elementary and middle schoolObjectives1.Students will identify examples of animal symbolism. 2.Students will look at and discuss works of art from Africa that embody animal symbolism. 3.Students will research an animal from the African continent and identify its traits, characteristics, and powers. 4.Students will create a work of art combining the characteristics and powers of two or more of these animals.MaterialsNature magazines, photographs of animals Construction paper Drawing paper and pencils, paint, and paintbrushes ClayImagesImage 5 Male and Female Antelope Headdresses Image 6 Komo Headdress Image 14 Linguist Staff Image 16 Buffalo (see also the poster of this page) Image 19 Helmet Mask Image 23 Shrine
176IntroductionAsk the students to look in newspapers and magazines (and through their clothing) to nd visual examples of animals used as symbols (advertising, sports, government agencies, corporations, stores, etc.) and bring them to class. Discuss the animals and what they represent. For example, the eagle appears on some quarters as a symbol of the United States. Eagles is also the name of a Philadelphia football team. Ask the students what comes to mind when they think of each of the following: liontigereagle hawkramjaguar owllambmouse elephantdonkeyblue jay What features and abilities do these animals have that might stand for certain powers or might be metaphors for certain human characteristics, whether virtues or vices? Try to list at least ten. (For example, quiet as a mouse; stubborn as a donkey.)Discussion of the ArtFrom the list of images on the prior page, choose works of art to project and discuss with the students. What animal or animals are represented in each work of art? Why did the artists choose these particular creatures? What skills, abilities, or powers do they symbolically express? In African art, animals may symbolize danger, power, wisdom, and transformation. The entire animal, selected parts of the animal, or combinations of animals and humans may be represented. Composite creatures contain the forces and attributes of many creatures and therefore are believed to have extraordinary powers.ActivityThe following activity could be part of a science/art class collaboration. Make a list of animals of Africa that appear in this resource: aardvarkelephantmudsh antelopefrogsnake buffaloleopardspider birdlizard Have students choose an animal from the list to research on the Internet and in the library. They should create a small poster with the animals picture and a list of its characteristics and special abilities (for example: runs fast, has camouage, etc.). Display the student posters in the classroom or have students present their ndings orally. Which animal characteristics would they most like to have?
177 Have students choose two or three animals from the class poster display. They may also choose different parts from each animal based on traits that they would like to combine. For example, the antelopes speed, the frogs camouage, the birds wings. With paper and pencil, they should sketch the animals and experiment with combining parts to form a composite creature. When they are satised with the results, they may create their own work of art incorporating their combination animala headdress, staff, clay gure, mask, altar shrine, or container. They may draw, paint, or sculpt the object in clay.Interdisciplinary Connections Social Studies/Art: Study animal symbols in works of art from other cultures: ancient Egypt, Assyria, Peru, India, medieval Europe.ResourcesThe African Wildlife Foundation, www.awf.org. Resources for Educators published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art The Art of Ancient Egypt: A Resource for Educators (Edith W. Watts. New York: MMA, 1998)discussion of gods and goddesses. The Arts of Korea: A Resource for Educators (Elizabeth Hammer, edited by Judith G. Smith. New York: MMA, 2002)Korean rank badge lesson plan. The Art of South and Southeast Asia: A Resource for Educators (Steven M. Kossak and Edith W. Watts. New York: MMA, 2001)animal lesson plan. Medieval Art: A Resource for Educators (Michael Norris. New York: MMA, 2005) bestiary lesson plan. The Royal Art of Benin: A Resource for Educators from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Edith Watts, et al. New York: MMA, 1994)discussion of animals. These publications (except for the The Royal Art of Benin) may also be downloaded from the Museums website at www.metmuseum.org/explore/classroom.asp. They are also available in the Museums Library and Teacher Resource Center in the Uris Center for Education.AssessmentWhat animal symbols did students incorporate into their composition or object? Why? How successful were they in combining the physical and symbolic qualities of each animal? How do these qualities relate to the object they have created? Ask the students to write a story about the object they created and its special powers.
179 Lesson Plan The Power Behind the ThroneLevelUpper elementary, middle, and high schoolObjectives1.Students will identify symbolic imagery in an African chair and stool. 2.Students will discuss the function of art to represent rank, power, and status. 3.Students will design and construct their own throne or power chair.MaterialsChair or stool (options):Construct a plywood chair or stool with large surfaces that can be painted, making it a permanent work of artPurchase an inexpensive chair or stool at a thrift shop or yard sale and modify itBorrow a school chair or stool and temporarily decorate it with cardboard, paper, and tape Poster board and cardboard Paints Masking or duct tape Upholstery tacksImagesImage 31 Chair Image 34 Stool Supplemental images related to power: Image 12 Ceremonial Ladle Image 14 Linguist Staff Image 16 Buffalo Image 18 Veranda Post Image 22 Plaque: Oba on Horseback (see also the poster of this image) Image 25 Figure of a Chief
180IntroductionPlace the chair at the front of the classroom. Discuss how chairs can represent status, prestige, and power (perhaps mention the term chairman). In many cultures, the ruler sits on a special throne that may be an elaborate work of art, made of luxurious materials using time-consuming techniques. It may be larger or higher than ordinary chairs, decorated with symbols and insignia to represent rank and authority. Such chairs might not only serve as seats for the powerful ruler, but may also be a source of power themselves. They may require special care, and only be used during special events and ceremonies.Discussion of the ArtProject images 31 and 34 and ask the students to describe how the artists conveyed rank, status, and power. (See the Comparisons for Classroom Discussion folder on the CD-ROM for easy projection of this pair.) What features identify the chair and stool as special places to sit? Discuss how the artist has adapted the female gure to be a support for the stool. What does she represent? Describe the pose and facial expressionwhat parts of the body are emphasized and what might that symbolize? Most traditional African rulers sat on stools. Discuss how the Chokwe chiefs were introduced to the European chair form and how they incorporated it into their own traditions. Why would a chief want scenes of daily and ritual life carved onto a chair? Project the supplemental images and further discuss how the artists convey rank, status, and power in the works of art.ActivityExplain that the students will create a class chair. Ask them to think about the gures depicted on the chair and stool (images 31 and 34). Have them identify notable gures from history, their community, and their families whom they respect and would wish to depict on a chair that represents power and authority. What rituals and special ceremonies might be included on a chair? Collaborate on a list of possibilities and rene the listfor example, use a generic grandmother gure to represent everyones grandmother, or a ceremony from each season to represent the entire year. Decide where the gures and scenes should be positionedwho should support the chair (to symbolize strength) and who should be depicted near the sitters head (to convey wisdom)? What other symbols might be added (such as animals, plants, special objects) to ll the rest of the surfaces? The chair itself can be altered; for example, place cardboard against the back of the chair to make it larger or higher. Divide the class into smaller groups and assign each group one section of the chair. First, the groups should measure their area and sketch out a design on paper. They should then check in with the larger group and make changes based on input from the group. The designs may be transferred and painted directly on
181 the chair or painted onto poster board and/or cardboard that can be wrapped around the legs and taped in place, attached to the back and sides, etc. Various techniques (collage, painting, paper sculpture, papier mch) may be used. A design of upholstery tacks can also be driven into the wood (see image 31).AssessmentAssign each student a day that they may use the chair in the classroom. Certain privileges decided upon by the class in advance may be conferred upon the sitter. Ask each student to write a short paragraph about how he or she felt when sitting on the chair and what the images on the chair meant to them. Collect these impressions into a scrapbook or binder, including photographs, if desired. Invite guests (parents, other faculty, etc.) to the classroom to sit on the chair and record their impressions for the book as well.
183 Lesson Plan The Human Figure and AbstractionLevelUpper elementary and middle schoolObjectives1.Students will look at examples of the human face and form in African art. 2.Students will identify how features and parts of the body can be abstracted into geometric shapes or solids. 3.Students will experiment with abstraction by creating a gure or head with geometric shapes or solids.MaterialsMarkers or crayons Clay Paper and scissors GlueImagesFaces Image 20 Head of an Oba Image 15 Memorial Head Image 11 Mende Helmet Mask Figures Image 1 Seated Figure Image 18 Veranda Post Image 29 Seated FigureIntroductionAsk one or two students to volunteer to have their bodies outlined on large sheets of paper that can be displayed at the front of the class. Using a marker or dark crayon, identify and outline geometric shapes in the gure: rectangles, triangles, ovals, etc. Add facial features, if desired, using geometric shapes. Next, label parts of the body with a concept that each might symbolizehead: intelligence; hands and ngers: skill; eyes: observation; legs: strength. How can anatomical features be changed to emphasize these ideas? Larger eyes, longer ngers, wider shoulders are some of the possibilities. What about pose and posture? Ask the students to look at examples of cartoons and works of art that exaggerate certain parts of the body. How do these gures compare with the outlined gure?
184 Older students: Choose a selection of representations of the human body from different time periods and cultures (refer to the Metropolitan Museums collections online [www.metmuseum/worksofart] or the Timeline of Art History [www.metmuseum.org/toah]; or see the resources for educators listed below). Discuss how facial features and expressions, the scale of the gure as well as its proportions, pose, and gesture are represented. Also look at representations in popular culture, including cartoons, posters, advertising, etc.Discussion of the ArtProject the images listed on the prior page, which show human faces or gures in African art. Notice the naturalistic features and the more abstract ones. Ask the students to nd examples of geometric shapes and forms, including ovals, circles, squares, spheres, cubes, etc. Discuss the effect of simplifying and abstracting forms and its relationship to African concepts of beauty. What details have been added to the simplied forms? How does this individualize the gures? Look at the expression on the faces and the poses of the gures. Are there any features or parts of the body that are exaggerated or more prominent? What might this mean?ActivityDistribute clay or construction paper. Have the students use geometric shapes or forms to design and construct a human face or gure. They may exaggerate the parts of the face and body to represent certain attributes like wisdom, speed, skill, imagination, dependability, or strength.ResourcesThe Art of Renaissance Europe: A Resource for Educators (Bosiljka Raditsa et al. New York: MMA, 2000)the human gure. 20th-Century Art: A Resource for Educators (Stella Paul. New York: MMA, 1999) gural abstraction, Amedeo Modigliani, Willem de Kooning. The Art of Ancient Egypt: A Resource for Educators (Edith W. Watts. New York: MMA, 1998)depiction of the human gure. The Art of South and Southeast Asia: A Resource for Educators (Steven M. Kossak and Edith W. Watts. New York: MMA, 2001)gural sculpture. These publications (except for 20th-Century Art ) may be downloaded from the Museums website at www.metmuseum.org/explore/classroom.asp. They are also available in the Museums Library and Teacher Resource Center in the Uris Center for Education.AssessmentDisplay the nished artwork. How well did the students incorporate abstraction into their paper or clay gure? Did they emphasize any particular features?
185 Lesson Plan African Art: Materials and TechniquesLevelElementary and middle schoolObjectives1.Students will discuss the geography and ecology of sub-Saharan Africa. 2.Students will work with materials, techniques, and concepts associated with African art.MaterialsTerracotta or red clay, self-hardening or re clay Rafa Beads, shells (or other embellishments) Printed fabrics Burlap and yarn Colored tissue paper Plastic owerpot, empty and clean plastic water bottle, or cardboard box Papier mchImagesTextiles Image 33 Prestige Panel Image 36 Apron Image 38 Textile Mantle Clay Image 1 Seated Figure Image 15 Memorial Head Image 40 Untitled (Vessel)MultimediaImage 26 Palm-Wine Container
186IntroductionThe following activity could be part of a social studies/art class collaboration. Display a map of Africa and assign students different regions in sub-Saharan Africa to research, identifying climate, geography, plants, animals, and other resources. Do these regions have contacts through trade with other parts of the world? Attach labels, stickers, photos, etc., to the areas around the map and string to indicate trade routes.Discussion of the ArtChoose a selection of images listed on the prior page and ask students to identify the materials and techniques used to make them. Use the map of Africa to locate where each object originated. Were the materials native to this region or were they imported; for example, silk, rafa, gourds, beads? What technologies are needed to produce each object? In the case of the textiles, looms must be constructed to weave the bers; clay objects must be red in a kiln. What kinds of designs are on each object? If geometric patterns are used, do they have any symbolism? What surface embellishment decorates each object? After looking at the works of art, students may wish to add more details to their map of Africa.ActivityAsk students to bring materials to class, some for their own use and some to trade with other students. These could include beads, feathers, shells, fake fur, printed fabrics, and yarn. Order additional materials to supplement the items that the students bring in. The nished project can be a decorated piece of cloth, container, clay gure, or mask. Textiles: Show students the Kuba textile (image 33). Distribute 12 x 12 inch squares of neutral-colored (tan, brown, black) burlap fabric, large plastic needles, and contrasting yarn (tan, brown, black). Demonstrate simple embroidery stitchesrunning stitches, back stitch, etc.and show students how the open weave of the burlap can be used to chart a geometric design using stitches that run vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Have students embroider a pattern that lls their square. They may wish to add beads, shells, a rafa fringe, or other embellishment to their textile. Clay: Use self-hardening or terracotta re clay to construct a gure, head, or vessel. Students may use coil and slab methods to build their object, then incise details and decorative patterns into the clay while it is still damp. After drying or ring, the object may be embellished with additional objects, a string of beads, cloth, or rafa, etc. Multimedia: Ask students to bring a plastic water bottle, plastic ower pot, margarine tub, or other container to school. Using papier mch, they should cover their container, changing the shape if they wish. When the papier mch
187 is dry, they can paint it with a base coat. Then, using a pencil eraser dipped in paint, they should stipple an allover design to simulate beads, covering the entire surface of the container. They may apply other decorations (like beads, yarn, shells, or fabric) with glue. If beads are not available, they can roll small pieces of colored tissue paper into wads and glue them to the surface.Interdisciplinary ConnectionsSocial Studies/Geography: Incorporate this activity into a study of Africa, its climate, ecology, regions, plants, animals, and natural resources. Identify materials used in the works of art that originate in Africa and others that are imported. Identify animals and their symbolism.ResourcesMedieval Art: A Resource for Educators (Michael Norris. New York: MMA, 2005) materials and techniques lesson plan. The Arts of Korea: A Resource for Educators (Elizabeth Hammer, edited by Judith G. Smith. New York: MMA, 2002)clay lesson plan. These publications may be downloaded from the Museums website at www.metmuseum.org/explore/classroom.asp. They are also available in the Museums Library and Teacher Resource Center in the Uris Center for Education.AssessmentDisplay the nished objects. How well did the students use the materials and techniques to create their own works of art? Were they able to organize patterns, geometric shapes, and applied embellishment in a pleasing way?
189 Lesson Plan Art and the Cycles of LifeLevelElementary, middle, and high schoolObjectives1.Younger students will identify roles of family members and look at African gures of men and women. 2.Older students will identify notable events in the cycle of life, and look at African artworks designed to symbolize or accompany these stages. 3.Students will create their own work of art, a family grouping or an object designed to accompany a transitional event in their own life.YoungerStudents MaterialsClay Paper, pencils, crayons, paintsImagesImage 4 Mother and Child / Seated Male with Lance Image 7 Ancestral Couple Image 13 Pair of FiguresIntroductionHave the students bring in photographs of their family. Discuss the ages of the family members and the role that each plays in the familyworking outside the home, cooking meals, doing chores, taking care of pets.Discussion of the ArtShow students the images of couples listed above. Ask them to describe the gures, their scale, poses, the parts of the body that are emphasized, and/or what each gure is holding. How do these relate to the role of the gure? What features (jewelry, hats) might reect the status of each gure?ActivityHave the students sketch their family members or sculpt them in clay, making sure that each persons role is identied by his or her clothing, objects, or pose.
190OlderStudents MaterialsMixed mediaImagesImage 3 Mask and Hood (funeral) Image 8 Mask (coming of age) Image 11 Mende Helmet Mask (coming of age) Image 13 Pair of Figures (adulthood) Image 15 Memorial Head (memorializing the deceased) Image 27 Reliquary Figure (honoring ancestors)IntroductionAsk the students to think of the transitional events that have occurred in their familiesa birth, wedding, birthday, rst day of school, graduation, death of a loved one. How are these events marked through rituals, gifts, and special objects? For example, a wake is held for people to share memories of a deceased relative; a christening includes symbolic gifts to the baby like a silver cup or spoon; specially designed cakes are served at weddings and graduation parties.Discussion of the ArtWhy are life transitions important and how have African people marked these transitions? Project the images listed above and discuss the stage of life that each object represents, the ceremonies and rituals that accompany it (image 3: funeral; image 8: coming of age; image 11: coming of age; image 13: adulthood; image 15: memorializing the deceased; image 27: honoring ancestors). Students should think of the roles of men and women, young and old, and the cultural traditions in their community. How and why are ancestors commemorated?ActivityChoose an individual transition or a special event, such as graduation, to commemorate in a work of art. Students may wish to honor a recently deceased family member by creating a remembrance object or container.Interdisciplinary ConnectionsVisual Art: A class might wish to commemorate their graduation to another school or transition to another stage of life by creating a work of art to leave as a gift; for example, a mural, a special memory book with photographs and drawings, etc. Discuss other ways peoples of Africa, as well as other cultures, celebrate transitions in life. Consider poetry, music, song, and dance.
191ResourcesThe Art of Renaissance Europe: A Resource for Educators (Bosiljka Raditsa et al. New York: MMA, 2000)individual, family, society, world at large. The Art of Ancient Egypt: A Resource for Educators (Edith W. Watts. New York: MMA, 1998)funerary art. Medieval Art: A Resource for Educators (Michael Norris. New York: MMA, 2005) reliquaries. A Masterwork of African Art: The Dogon CoupleActivities for Learning (Edith W. Watts, Alice W. Schwarz, and Rose Tejada. New York: MMA, 2002). These publications (except for A Masterwork of African Art: The Dogon Couple ) may be downloaded from the Museums website at www.metmuseum.org/explore/ classroom.asp. They are also available in the Museums Library and Teacher Resource Center in the Uris Center for Education.AssessmentHow well did younger students represent the different age groups and stages of life of their families in their artwork? Were their roles dened by the use of symbolic imagery or objects? How well did older students understand the concept of transitional events in their lives and represent them through a symbolic object?
193 Lesson Plan Masks and HeaddressesLevelElementary and middle schoolObjectives1.Students will look at and discuss African masks made for a variety of purposes. 2.Students will create a mask to represent a particular ceremony or event.MaterialsCardboard, poster board Rafa, yarn Paint, markersImagesImage 3 Mask and Hood Image 5 Male and Female Antelope Headdresses Image 6 Komo Headdress Image 8 Mask (see also the poster of this image) Image 10 Headdress Image 11 Mende Helmet Mask Image 19 Helmet Mask Image 24 Janus-Faced Headdress Image 32 MaskIntroductionThink of reasons why masks are created and worn, including performances, ceremonies, holidays, didactic purposes, and for disguise and transformation. Students may have seen masks in a museum; can they be considered art? Why or why not? Since masks are worn by people, how do clothing and movement affect the wearing of the mask? What is the effect of a mask in performance, when accompanied by dancing, singing, instruments, special lighting?Discussion of the ArtSelect three or four images from the list above to show the students. What materials can the students identify? What or who might the mask represent? Is it a human face, an animal, a combination of animals? Does it incorporate geometric forms? Who wears the mask? What abstract or concrete ideas are embodied in the maskforces of the spirit world, protection, ideal behavior? Discuss how masks
194 are used in ceremonies and rites. Read the descriptions of the images you have selected and discuss the additional costume elements worn by the performer as well as the function of the performance.ActivityAsk the students to design a mask for a specic ceremony, ritual, or time of year. After choosing the purpose of the mask, they should make a list of three or four objects or features that will illustrate the idea, then sketch a design that combines these elements. The use of abstraction, patterns, metaphor, and embellishment can be simple or complex, depending on the age group. Distribute cardboard, construction paper, or poster board in different colors, and have students construct their mask or headdress, attaching additional cardboard to make the mask three-dimensional. They may paint all or part of the mask, or attach rafa, yarn, beads, shells, fabric, twigs, etc.Interdisciplinary ConnectionsDance/Drama: Ask the students to design a costume to wear with their mask and/or to choreograph a dance or movement. They may add music or percussion sounds to accompany their performance.ResourcesYou may want to view the video on the DVD included in this resource. Several segments show masks performed as part of a variety of celebrations in Africa.AssessmentHow well did the students incorporate a particular idea of an abstract concept, event, or ritual into their mask? Have the students wear their masks (and they may incorporate sounds, music, movement, dance, and additional costume elements) and see if the rest of the class can guess for what purpose the mask was created.
195Comparisons for Classroom DiscussionThe comparisons in this section offer an opportunity for effective classroom discussion, which will enable students to discern the distinctive features of the works of art. These comparisons are also available on the enclosed CD for projection in the classroom.
196 How are these masks different? Are there similarities between them?Discuss geometric/circular shapes.Note surfaces, patterns, textures, and the effect of projections. Image 3 Mask and Hood Image 19 Helmet Mask
197What is different about these couples?What ideas does each pair express? How are they shown?What forms suggest movement? Image 7 Ancestral Couple Image 13 Pair of Figures
198 Image 21 Pendant MaskHow are these heads different?Discuss abstract forms versus naturalistic ones.What details symbolize identity? Image 15 Memorial Head
199Compare and contrast these seats. (Please note relative dimensions of each; see description pages.)Discuss symbols of status and power.What is unusual about the female gure? Image 31 Chair Image 34 Stool
200 What is different? What is similar?Discuss the use of scale and balance.How is power expressed? Image 22 Plaque: Oba on Horseback Image 37 Page from an Illuminated Gospel
201What features identify luxury?Note the patterns as decoration and symbol.Note the functions of each of these containers. Image 9 Lidded Saltcellar Image 26 Palm-Wine Container
202 What features do these gures share?What do the added materials and rough surfaces symbolize?Discuss the function of each gure. Image 17 Figure Image 30 Power Figure
Glossary Selected Resources
203Glossaryadze an axlike tool for dressing wood, etc., with a curved blade at right angles to the handle. ancestor one from whom a person is descended and who is usually more remote in the line of descendants than a grandparent. artifact a man-made object. caryatid a supporting column that has the form of a female gure. celebration a festival or observation of special activities. chiefdom a region or group of people ruled by a chief. civilization a relatively high level of cultural and technological development; the cultural characteristic of a particular time and place. coiffure a style or manner of arranging the hair. culture the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. custom a way of doing things that is passed on to each generation. dialect a variety of language used by a group, with vocabulary and grammar that distinguish it from other varieties used by other groups. diviner a person with the power to use invocation and manipulation of spiritual entities, potent objects, and herbal mixtures to intercede with the gods on behalf of the people. environment the outside forces that surround and affect a person or population. gurative an artwork that represents recognizable images. iconography the traditional or conventional images or symbols associated with a subject, especially a religious or legendary subject.
204 kaolin a ne white clay. lineage direct descent from an ancestor. lost-wax a casting process using a wax model that is encased in a molding material (such as sand or plaster), then melted away leaving a hollow mold for the metal cast; this technique was developed independently in every continent except Australasia and is widespread in West Africa. masquerade a social gathering of persons wearing masks and often fantastical costumes. matrilineal designating kinship or derivation through the mother instead of the father. naturalistic an object made or sculpted to conform to nature. potsherd a piece or fragment of earthenware or pot that is made of red or baked clay. quatrefoil a representation of a ower with four petals, or a leaf that has four leaets. rafa the ber of the rafa palm, used especially for making baskets and hats. regalia the emblems, symbols, or paraphernalia indicative of royalty. relief a term applied to sculpture that projects from a background surface rather than standing freely. reliquary a container or shrine in which relics or objects of related importance are kept. ritual a set form or system of rites, religious or otherwise. scarication patterns incised, scratched, or cut into the skin, which may signify a persons status, accomplishments, or ideal of beauty. steatite a variety of soapstone used for sculpting. striation an arrangement of stripes or lines distinguished from the surrounding area by color, texture, or elevation. stylized conforming to a style rather than conforming to nature or tradition. symbolic representing a certain idea, symbol, or belief. terracotta a hard, red but unglazed clay ranging in color from pink to purple-red but typically brownish red, used especially for sculpture and pottery.
205 thermoluminescence a geological method used for dating, especially objects made of clay. veneration respect or awe inspired by the dignity, wisdom, dedication, or talent of a person. warp yarn that extends lengthwise to form threads of a woven fabric. weft yarn or thread that crosses the warp.
207Pronunciation GuideThis guide offers approximate pronunciations for selected African words and names mentioned in this publication. adun koro AH-doon KOH-roh akotofahana ah-KOH-toh-FAH-nah AseAH-sheh BagaBAH-gah BamanaBAH-mah-nah BangwaBAHN-gwah BauleBAU-leh BeninBeh-NEEN bocio BOH-choh bokonon boh-koh-NON BuliBOO-lee ChokweCHOK-weh ci wara chee-WAH-rah Dahomeyda-hoh-MEH dama DAH-mah Djenne-jenoDJEH-neh-JEH-noh Dmbadm-BAH Dogondoh-GOHN EdoEH-doh Ejaghameh-JAH-gahm FonFOHN(G) Gabongah-BOHN(G) GeledeGEH-leh-deh Gwandusugwahn-DOO-soo Gwantigigwahn-TEE-gee iri ee-FEE-ree IjoEE-joh ijogolo ee-JOH-goh-loh iwa EE-wah Iyoba ee-YOH-bah kanaga KAH-nah-gah lefem LEH-fem Mangbetumahng-BEH-too
208 mbala m-BAH-lah Ndebeleen-deh-BEH-leh nkhanda n-KAHN-da nkisi n-KEE-see nkondi n-KON-dee nsibidi n-SEE-bee-dee nwantantay n-WAHN-tahn-tay ObaOH-bah okyeame oh-kee-AH-meh Olowe of IseOH-loh-weh of EE-seh oriki oh-REE-kee SandeSAHN-deh SenufoSuh-NOO-foh Seydou KetaSAY-doo KAY-tah WeWEH wunkirle woon-KEER-leh YakaYAH-kah YorubaYOH-roo-bah
209Introduction to the VideoMany Bamana communities in Mali bring to life the mythical origins of agriculture in rituals and festivities that either launch or conclude the farming season. They celebrate the mythic progenitor of agriculture, Ci Wara. The video highlights featured on the enclosed DVD draw upon footage of a dozen performances recorded by ve different observers between 1970 and 2002. They show a number of headdresses performed that are similar to some featured in this resource (see images 5 and 6). The dancers are members of community youth associations that sponsor annual festivals. These celebrations are a communal call to labor that encourages members to prepare for the hand plowing that is necessary before the planting season begins with the coming of the rains. The rst segment shows a rite performed by a ci wara ofcial. The series of ritualized gestures he enacts invoke the process whereby farmers make the earth receptive for new life that is fed by rain from the heavens. Although ci wara headdresses are always danced by male performers, they generally appear in male and female pairs. The dancers movements are a series of side-to-side undulations of the body and an up-and-down movement of the head that at once invoke tilling actions and motions of various symbolic animals. They often begin by circling the perimeter of the dance arena once together before the tempo of the performance intensies. At that time they may alternate as soloists. Female members of the youth associations also provide essential encouragement and vital energy to the event, serving as both chorus and attendants to the male actors; some fan the ci wara performer to cool him down. Ci wara performances have been shaped by continual innovation. In many instances, the repertory has been expanded with additional masquerade genres. Among these is nama koroni koun a playful trickster gure. Nama koroni koun or little hyena head, provides comedic intervals between appearances of the ci wara by running around trying to steal objects from the spectators. Sometimes he enters the arena with items that he has stolen from peoples homes and proceeds to redistribute this bounty to assembled members of the community. Another variation of this character inspired by the hyenaan animal that in Bamana culture embodies imperfect knowledge and deviousnessis nama tye tye This dynamic interlude features a short swift dance whose zigzag trajectory is said to represent the spiral motions of heavenly bodies. Running time: 11 minutes
210Video Segment Credits Ci Wara InvocationJiminjan village, Kolokani district, Mali, February 7, 1976 Camera: Dr. James Brink, courtesy of the Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution Audio: original to performanceCi Wara headdressesSegou region, Mali, 1970 Camera: Dr. Pascal James Imperato Audio: P. J. Imperato, Segou region, ca. 1970 Mali, 1972 Bend of the Niger (16mm); director, Eliot Elisofon Audio: P. J. Imperato, Segou region, ca. 1970Sogoni Koun headdressesBougouni, Mali, 1972 Bend of the Niger (16mm); director, Eliot Elisofon Audio: from Bend of the Niger (see above) Djitoumou region, Mali, 1971 Camera: Dr. Pascal James Imperato Audio: from Bend of the Niger (see above)Ngonzon Koun headdressesJiminjan village, Kolokani district, Mali February 7, 1976 Camera: Dr. James Brink, courtesy of the Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution Audio: original to performance Kita district, Mali, 1971 Camera: Dr. Pascal James Imperato Audio: P. J. Imperato, Segou region, ca. 1970 Djitoumou region, Mali, 1970 Camera: Dr. Pascal James Imperato Audio: J. Brink, Kolokani district, 1976 Djitoumou region, Mali, 1969 Camera: Dr. Pascal James Imperato Audio: J. Brink, Kolokani district, 1976 Djitoumou region, Mali, 1971 Camera: Dr. Pascal James Imperato Audio: from Bend of the Niger (see above) Mande Plateau, Mali, 1993 Camera (8 mm video): Dr. Stephen Wooten Audio: original to performance Sirakoro Meguetana, Mali, 2002 Camera: Ard Berge, courtesy of Alisa LaGamma Audio: P. J. Imperato, Segou region, ca. 1970Nama Koroni Koun headdressesJiminjan village, Kolokani district, Mali February 7, 1976 Camera: Dr. James Brink Audio: original to performance Djitoumou region, Mali, 1970 Camera: Dr. Pascal James Imperato Audio: S. Wooten, Mande Plateau, 1993
211Bacquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa New York: Thames & Hudson, 1998. This book, divided into 49 sections focusing on the major tribes in the various cultural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, discusses art in the context of the politics and society of each particular region. Copiously illustrated, the book is structured so the reader can readily compare and contrast the art; includes bibliographies, a glossary, and index. Berzock, Kathleen Bickford, Edith Watts, and Emily Hanna-Vergara. Masks of Africa in the Permanent Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Guide to the Poster. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. This booklet explains the functions that masks perform in many African societies. Includes bibliographical references and classroom activities. (This publication is available only in the Museums Library and Teacher Resource Center.) Blier, Suzanne Preston. The Royal Arts of Africa: The Majesty of Form Perspectives series. New York: Abrams, 1998. Blier explores the arts of Central and West African monarchies with special attention to palaces, regalia, ceremonies, and processions. This book is geared to specialists and general readers alike. A timeline, glossary, bibliography, and index enhance the text. Garlake, Peter. Early Art and Architecture of Africa. Oxford History of Art series. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Garlake surveys the art and architecture of Africa from the earliest rock painting to the time of the rst European contacts and provides a fascinating overview by region of the entire continent and its art. The text is illustrated with numerous photographs, line drawings, maps, and diagrams; includes an index and bibliographic references. Garrard, Timothy F. Gold of Africa: Jewellery and Ornaments from Ghana, Cte dIvoire, Mali and Senegal in the Collection of the Barbier-Mueller Museum Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1989. This richly illustrated book is a readable, indepth look at the gold and goldsmithing of sub-Saharan West Africa. Includes an index. Gillow, John. African Textiles San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2003. The variety and vastness of African textiles and their production techniques are fully realized in this abundantly illustrated survey. A map, index, suggestions for further reading, glossary, and museum list complete the work. Kasr, Sidney Littleeld. Contemporary African Art World of Art series. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1999. Kasr has written an excellent and readable overview of post-1950 sub-Saharan art; includes many illustrations, a map, bibliography, and index. LaGamma, Alisa. Genesis: Ideas of Origin in African Sculpture New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. This beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue eloquently reveals the universality of creation myths. LaGamma has paid particular attention to the carved ci wara headdresses of the Bamana peoples of Mali. Includes bibliographic references. _______. Echoing Images: Couples in African Sculpture. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004. In another superbly illustrated exhibition catalogue, LaGamma examines the concept of relationships and duality necessary to all humans as expressed in sub-Saharan African sculpture. Includes bibliographic references. Oliver, Roland, and Anthony Atmore. Africa Since 1800. 5th ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. A panoramic survey of the continents modern history, told in a straightforward manner. A brief introduction to the pre-1800 period is followed by a discussion of precolonial and colonial times; then more than one third of the book is devoted to the postcolonial period from the 1920s to 2003. Many maps enhance the discussion. A bibliography and index are included. ________. Medieval Africa, 1250 1800 Rev. ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. This remarkable volume examines the diverse environmental conditions that have shaped Africas history, alongside European explorations and Christian and Arab penetrations into the continent. Many maps enhance the text. Includes a bibliography and index. Parrinder, Geoffrey. African Mythology Library of the Worlds Myths and Legends series. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1991. Professor Parrinders readable introduction to African myths and folklore includes many illustrations, an index, and a bibliography. Phillips, Tom, ed. Africa: The Art of a Continent. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1999. This sweeping 615-page exhibition catalogue looks at the entire range of art of the African continent. Includes an index of ethnic groups, extensive illustrations, and a bibliography. Picton, John, and John Mack. African Textiles. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. This is a detailed survey of the process of textile production, from preparation of the raw material to nished product, in various parts of Africa; includes many illustrations, an index, and bibliography.Selected Resources for Further Information
212Ross, Doran H., ed. Elephant: The Animal and Its Ivory in African Culture Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1992. The African elephant and its role in the life of different cultural groups in sub-Saharan Africa is examined in this remarkable exhibition catalogue bringing a new awareness to the study of ivory; includes an overview of the ivory trade. Stunning photographs throughout and a thorough bibliography enrich the catalogue. Vison, Monica Blackmun, et al. A History of Art in Africa. New York: Abrams, 2001. This is a comprehensive art historical look at the arts of the entire continent of Africa from the earliest stone sculpture and rock painting to twentieth-century creations and performances; includes a nal chapter on the African diaspora. Striking illustrations, a glossary, annotated bibliography, and index enhance the work. Vogel, Susan Mullin. Baule: African Art, Western Eyes. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. Vogel explores the sculpture of the Baule people of Ivory Coast with an inherent sensitivity due to her immersion in their culture. This book is a complete discussion of the various ways the Baule use and think about art. Includes a glossary, checklist, bibliography, and index. Watts, Edith W., Alice W. Schwarz, and Rosa Tejada. A Masterwork of African Art: The Dogon Couple. A Closer Look series. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. The sculpture of a seated couple in the Metropolitan Museum is the focus of this teacher resource. A booklet provides background information and activities; includes two posters and a set of puzzle cards. Watts, Edith, et al. The Royal Art of Benin: A Resource for Educators from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. This resource is a visual guide to the royal court and ceremonies of the kingdom of Benin, which is today a part of Nigeria. Filled with information and activities for students at various levels, the resource also includes a detailed, four-part discovery poster about a royal ancestor tusk, 20 slides, a map, glossary, and bibliography. (This publication is available only in the Museums Library and Teacher Resource Center.) Willett, Frank. African Art. 3rd rev. ed. World of Art series. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2003. This concise survey of African art, from cave painting to the twentieth century, includes a historiography of the study of African art; many illustrations, an index, and bibliography are also included. Zaslavsky, Claudia. Africa Counts: Number and Pattern in African Culture. 3rd ed. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1999. Zaslavsky has updated her inuential investigation of African mathematics. This readable and well-illustrated book was considered a classic in the eld of ethnomathematics soon after it was rst published in 1973. Diagrams, maps, bibliographical references, and an index supplement the text.Resources for StudentsBond, George, ed. The Heritage Library of African Peoples series. New York: Rosen Publishing, 1997 . The series includes: Asante, Chokwe, Edo, Fang, Luba, Ndebele, Songhay, and more. These surveys of the culture, history, and contemporary life of various African peoples include many illustrations, bibliographical references, and an index. Finley, Carol. The Art of African Masks: Exploring Cultural Traditions. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1999. This is a well-illustrated book of many different types of African masks from the various cultural groups of Africa. Includes bibliographical references and an index. Knappert, Jan. Kings, Gods & Spirits from African Mythology. The World Mythologies series. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1986. Knappert has recorded African myths and legends passed down from generation to generation. Illustrations enhance the text; includes bibliographical references and an index. Mitchison, Naomi. African Heroes. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969. These eleven stories of real sub-Saharan African heroes tell about conicts that arose during six centuries of European colonization. Service, Pamela F. The Ancient African Kingdom of Kush Cultures of the Past series. New York: Benchmark Books, 1998. This introduction to daily life in an ancient kingdom on the Nile is suitable for readers of all ages. Many illustrations, a chronology, glossary, bibliography, and index enhance the usefulness of this interesting book. When Hippo Was Hairy and Other Tales from Africa. New York: Barrons, 1988. The 31 folktales about African animals are accompanied by factual information about each animal. Includes a bibliography and glossary.
213We advise all educators to preview these videos and lms before integrating them into lesson plans. Some of these are also available in DVD format. Africa. National Geographic Television and Thirteen/WNET New York, 2001. 5 videocassettes. (540 min.) NATURE Series. Vol. 1: Savanna Homecoming / Desert Odyssey ; vol. 2: Voices of the Forest / Mountains of Faith ; vol. 3: Love in the Sahel / Restless Waters ; vol. 4: Leopards of Zanzibar / Southern Treasures ; vol. 5: The Making of Africa. Explores most of the countries and many of the cultures of Africa, a continent that is as diverse in human culture as it is in ora and fauna. Human interest stories give each episode a personal touch. This portrait of life on the continent shows the constant struggles of humans versus nature and traditional culture versus the modern world that epitomize life in Africa. Closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. Vols. 1 4, each 120 min.; vol. 5, 60 min. African American Art: Past and Present. Wilton, Conn.: Reading & OReilly, 1992. This introductory survey of African American art from the colonial period to the twentieth century is intended for classroom use. Topics covered in Tape 1 (30 min.) are: Africa, Middle Passage, Slavery, Decorative Arts, Improvisation in the Visual Arts, and 18thand 19th-Century Fine Art Survey. Accompanied by a teachers guide. African Art, Women, History: The Luba People of Central Africa. Created and produced by Linda Freeman; written and directed by David Irving. Chappaqua, N.Y.: L&S Video, 1998. (28 min.) Detailed look at the importance of memory, history, and the role of women in the art of the Luba people of southeastern Zaire. The Art of the Dogon. Directed by John Goberman and Marc Bauman. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Chicago: Home Vision, 1988. (24 min.) Explores the art, culture, and beliefs of the Dogon people of Mali, based on Lester Wundermans extensive collection of Dogon sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum; includes archival footage. Ceramic Gestures: A Conversation with Magdalene Odundo. Directed by Victoria Vesna. University of California, Santa Barbara: Television Studios of Instructional Resources, 1995. (9 min.) Produced in conjunction with the exhibition Ceramic Gestures: New Vessels by Magdalene Odundo. Efe/Gelede Ceremonies among the Western Yoruba Created by Henry John Drewal (June 1971). 1997 Henry John Drewal. Viewable on the Museums website (www. metmuseum.org/explore/yoruba/htm/fs_4.htm), these two excerpts are from a lm made in the town of Idahin and document the Metropolitans Gelede mask (image 19) in two distinct creative contexts. One shows the sculptor Falola Edun completing work on the Gelede mask, while the other shows the mask being performed. Yaaba Soore: The Path of the Ancestors Produced by Rodney Jensen; written by Christopher Roy. Iowa City: University of Iowa, 1986. (17 min.) Shows African masks from Burkina Faso in West Africa as they are used in ritual dances. National Museum of African Art Teacher Resources at: www.nmafa.si.edu/exhibits/resources.html Seven videos on African art, including Ceramic Gestures: A Conversation with Magdalene Odundo, The Art of West African Strip-Woven Cloth, The Hands of the Potter, Masters of Brass: Lost-Wax Casting in Ghana, and Togu Na and Cheko: Change and Continuity in the Art of Mali Available on a freeloan basis.Videos for ChildrenAnansi. Directed by C. W. Rogers. Illustrations by Steven Guarnaccia; story written by Brian Gleeson. We All Have Tales series; Childrens Classics from Around the World series. Westport, Conn.: Rabbit Ears Productions, 1991. (30 min.) These two hilarious stories introduce Anansi the spider, who wins possession of all the stories in the jungle by outsmarting the prideful snake. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in Peoples Ears. Directed by Gene Deitch. From the book by Verna Aardema; illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Weston, Conn.: Weston Woods, 1984. (10 min.) Animated West African tale that explains the mosquitos buzz.Videography
214Africa: One Continent, Many Worlds www.nhm.org/africa A collaboration between the Field Museum in Chicago, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and others, this website focuses on the anthropology, geology, and natural history of Africa, but also includes an image database, organized by country. American Museum of Natural History, New York www.amnh.org/education In the education section of its website, the American Museum of Natural History offers a search engine for its online resources, including curriculum materials, activities, and articles. The website also includes exhibition and collection information. The Art Institute of Chicago www.artic.edu This site presents highlights from the Institutes collection of African art. Under the Art Access online resource, an Arts of Africa section includes lesson plans and online art activities. DeYoung Museum, San Fransisco www.deyoungmuseum.org The Collections section of this website features 100 digital images of works in the African Art collection. An online Teachers Guide to African Art is available. EDSITEment www.edsitement.neh.gov This National Endowment for the Humanities website features a search engine that nds online teaching resources and lesson plans on a wide range of topics. Select the History and Social Studies tab, then select the subcategory World HistoryAfrica. The site also permits gradespecic searches, and the option to search for websites. Fowler Museum, University of California, Los Angeles www.fowler.ucla.edu Although the Fowlers website does not present its outstanding collectionone of the premier collections of African art in the United Statesits Curriculum Resources for Teachers page (under Education) features its extensive list of African art publications and resources available for purchase. National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. www.nmafa.si.edu The Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of African Art website features its vast collection, which is searchable online, information about exhibitions, web-based teacher resources, activities for children, and a link to Radio Africa Videos on African art are available on a free-loan basis (see Videography, above). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York www.metmuseum.org/explore The Metropolitan Museums Explore and Learn section includes an array of online activities, with African artists and art featured in Artists and Themes and Cultures, respectively. www.metmuseum.org/toah The Timeline of Art History includes extensive information on African art and cultures, as well as on specic objects in the Museums collection. www.metmuseum.org/Works_of_Art/collection.asp Images and descriptions of selected African works in the Museums collection are highlighted in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas permanent collection section under Works of Art. Museum for African Art, Long Island City, Queens, New York www.africanart.org The website provides information about exhibitions, educational programs, and publications, as well as an online educational feature on African masks. Saint Louis Art Museum www.stlouis.art.museum The website features Art of Africa, an interactive online teachers guide to the Museums collection. It is also available as a PDF download. University of Iowa, Iowa City University of Iowa Museum of Art www.uiowa.edu/uima The website features a downloadable teachers guide, Discover Africa developed for seventh-grade social studies classes. Art and Life in Africa Project www.uiowa.edu/~africart/ Developed by the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Iowa, this website is adapted from a CD-ROM resource and has extensive links to articles, photographs, video, and music, featuring both traditional and contemporary African art. This resource is suitable for older students and teachers.Websites
215In addition to the resources listed below, the author consulted the research les of the Museums Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Abiodun, Rowland, Henry J. Drewal, and John Pemberton III, eds. The Yoruba Artist: New Theoretical Perspectives on African Arts. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994. Africa. In The Dictionary of Art edited by Jane Turner, vol. 1, pp. 213 440. New York: Groves Dictionaries, 1996. Anderson, Martha G., and Philip M. Peek, eds. Ways of the Rivers: Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2002. Bassani, Ezio, and William B. Fagg. Africa and the Renaissance: Art in Ivory New York: Center for African Art, 1988. Berns, Marla C. Ceramic Gestures: New Vessels by Magdalene Odundo. Santa Barbara: University Art Museum, University of California, 1995. Blier, Suzanne Preston. Imaging Otherness in Ivory: African Portrayals of the Portuguese, ca. 1492. Art Bulletin 75, no. 3 (September 1993), pp. 375 96. Blier, Suzanne Preston. African Vodun: Art, Psychology, and Power. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Blier, Suzanne Preston. The Royal Arts of Africa: The Majesty of Form. New York: Abrams, 1998. Bourgeois, Arthur P. Art of the Yaka and Suku. Meudon, France: A. et F. Chafn, 1984. Carey, Margret. Beads and Beadwork of East and South Africa. Princes Risborough: Shire Publications, 1986. Cole, Herbert M., ed. I Am Not Myself: The Art of African Masquerade. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, University of California, 1985. Cole, Herbert M., and Doran H. Ross. The Arts of Ghana. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, University of California, 1977. Colleyn, Jean-Paul, ed. Bamana:The Art of Existence in Mali. New York: Museum for African Art, 2001. Courtney-Clarke, Margaret. Ndebele: The Art of an African Tribe. New York: Rizzoli, 1986. Darish, Patricia. Dressing for the Next Life: Rafa Textile Fabrication and Display among the Kuba of South Central Zaire. In Cloth and Human Experience edited by Annette B. Weiner and Jane Schneider, pp. 117 40. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989. De Grunne, Bernard. An Art Historical Approach to the Terracotta Figures of the Inland Niger Delta. African Arts 28, no. 4 (Autumn 1995), pp. 70 79, 112. Drewal, Henry John, John Pemberton III, and Rowland Abiodun. Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought. New York: Center for African Art, 1989. Drewal, Henry John, and Margaret Thompson Drewal. Gelede: Art and Female Power among the Yoruba. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983. Ezra, Kate. A Human Ideal in African Art: Bamana Figurative Sculpture. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1986. Ezra, Kate. Art of the Dogon: Selections from the Lester Wunderman Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1988. Ezra, Kate. The Royal Art of Benin: The Perls Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. Fernandez, James W. Principles of Opposition and Vitality in Fang Aesthetics. In Art and Aesthetics in Primitive Societies: A Critical Anthology edited by Carol F. Jopling, pp. 356 73. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1971. Garlake, Peter. Early Art and Architecture of Africa. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Glaze, Anita J. Art and Death in a Senufo Village. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981. Johnson, Barbara C. Four Dan Sculptors: Continuity and Change. San Francisco: Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, 1986. Heldman, Marilyn, et al. African Zion: The Sacred Art of Ethiopia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993. Jordn, Manuel, ed. Chokwe! Art and Initiation among Chokwe and Related Peoples. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1998. Lamp, Frederick. The Art of the Baga: A Drama of Cultural Reinvention. New York: Museum for African Art, 1996. LaGamma, Alisa. Beyond Master Hands: The Lives of the Artists. African Arts 31, no. 4 (Autumn 1998), pp. 24 37. LaGamma, Alisa. Art and Oracle: African Art and Rituals of Divination. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. LaGamma, Alisa. Genesis: Ideas of Origin in African Sculpture. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. Lamunire, Michelle. You Look Beautiful Like That: The Portrait Photographs of Seydou Keta and Malick Sidib Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Art Museums, 2001. Lawal, Babatunde. The Gld Spectacle: Art, Gender, and Social Harmony in an African Culture. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996. MacGaffey, Wyatt. Astonishment and Power. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993. Mack, John. Madagascar.Island of the Ancestors. London: British Museum Publications, 1986. Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacic Islands, Africa, and the Americas. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. Nicklin, Keith. Nigerian Skin-Covered Masks. African Arts 7, no. 3 (March 1974), pp. 8 15.Authors Bibliography
216Northern, Tamara. The Art of Cameroon. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, 1984. Perrois, Louis. Ancestral Art of Gabon: From the Collections of the Barbier-Mueller Museum. Geneva: The Museum, 1985. Phillips, Ruth B. Representing Woman: Sande Masquerades of the Mende of Sierra Leone. Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1995. Roberts, Allen F. Animals in African Art: From the Familiar to the Marvelous. Munich: Prestel Verlag, 1995. Roberts, Mary Nooter, and Allen F. Roberts, eds. Memory: Luba Art and the Making of History. New York: Museum for African Art, 1996. Roy, Christopher D. The Art of the Upper Volta Rivers. Meudon, France: A. et F. Chafn, 1987. Roy, Christopher D. The Spread of Mask Styles in the Black Volta Basin. African Arts 20, no. 4 (August 1987), pp. 40 47. Schildkrout, Enid, and Curtis A. Keim. African Reections: Art from Northeastern Zaire. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990. Sieber, Roy. African Textiles and Decorative Arts. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1972. Thompson, Robert Farris, and Joseph Cornet. The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1981. Vison, Monica Blackmun, et al. A History of Art in Africa. New York: Abrams, 2001. Vogel, Susan Mullin. Baule: African Art, Western Eyes. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. Vogel, Susan Mullin. African Aesthetics: The Carlo Monzino Collection. New York: Center for African Art, 1986. Vogel, Susan Mullin. Buli Master, and Other Hands. Art in America 68, no. 5 (May 1980), pp. 132 42. Walker, Roslyn Adele. Olw of Is: A Yoruba Sculptor to Kings. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1998.