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ART OF ANCIENT WEST AFRICA

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Title: ART OF ANCIENT WEST AFRICA


1
ART OF ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
2
WEST AFRICA
  • Societies with their own
  • customs and artistic
  • traditions styles

3
WEST AFRICA

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ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • Tribal Architecture
  • Diverse architectural styles using natural
    materials (mud, wood, palm leaves, )
  • Adobe structures, made of earth mixed with water,
    have been built in the countries of Mali, Niger,
    Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso

Dogon villages built on the sides of cliffs along
the Niger river - Mali
Adobe mud brick house - Ghana
Timbuktu - Mali
8
ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • Architecture
  • Use of fractal scaling small parts of the
    structure tend to look similar to larger parts,
    such as a circular village made of circular
    houses
  • African architecture has been subject to numerous
    external influences (western and Islamic)

Djenne marketplace - Mali
Earthen brick houses Benin, Nigeria
Wood ribbed house - Cameroon
9
WEST AFRICA
  • Architecture
  • Architecture
  • Today, modern western styles, Islamic styles, and
    contemporary African tribal styles based on
    earlier traditions can be found throughout West
    Africa

Nigeria movie house
Zaria, Nigeria clay houses
Djenne Mosque, Mali
10
ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • Similarities
  • Largely agricultural societies composed of
    farmers, metal workers, traders, artisans,
    hunters, warriors
  • Yams, grains, plantains, corn, beans main crops
  • Societies ruled by powerful royal families and
    elders

Yoruba Nigeria Man carving dried gourds used to
serve food or drink
11
ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • Similarities
  • Reverence of ancestors
  • Structured beliefs with gods and spirits linked
    to the forces of nature
  • Belief in spirits that influence existence
    environment
  • Belief that death is not final and in a world of
    ancestral spirits
  • Emphasis on the human figure

Ancestral Figure Senufo - Mali
12
ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • Similarities
  • Emphasis on performance art
  • Tradition of oral literature passed on from
    generation to generation through ritual,
    ceremony, and spoken word
  • Folktales proverbs
  • Mythologies
  • Poetry
  • Drama

Racing Mask Dan Ivory Coast
13
ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • Artists
  • Worked on commission from ruler, cult, healer,
    secret society
  • Followed framework of local beliefs and
    traditions
  • Symbolic shapes
  • Symbolic colors
  • Depiction of human form

Bobo Antelope Mask Burkina Faso
14
Role of Art in West Africa
  • Not seen as art but something to connect people
    with the unseen audience of spirits of dead and
    the spirits and forces of nature
  • Intervened
  • Offered advice
  • Channeled energies

Mossi Fetish Figure Burkina Faso
15
Role of Art in West Africa
Works were not seen as an piece of art but as an
item with a societal purpose
  • Assisted and maintained physical spiritual
    well-being of community
  • Helped organize society
  • Helped solve problems
  • Identified status within society

Carved Door Dogon - Mali
16
WEST AFRICAN ART
  • Imagery often abstract or
  • highly stylized
  • Represented abstract concepts (a spirit, a force,
    )
  • Prevailing belief a likeness of an individual
    would trap part of his/her spirit/essence

17
SCULPTURE
  • Main form of artistic expression
  • Full-round and relief
  • Part of ritual and celebration
  • Made of wood and cast metals

Wooden full-round figure
Bronze relief panel
18
SCULPTURE
  • Concerned with aspects of existence
  • Continuity of life
  • Initiation into adulthood
  • Influence over spirits to control health and the
    environment
  • Death and ancestral spirits

Chiwara a mythical farming god in the form of an
antelope. Carved figures worn on the head as part
of a ritual when crops are to be planted to teach
young Bamana men social values as well as
agricultural techniques.
19
SCULPTURE
They were danced in pairs and celebrate the union
of male (sun), female (earth) and fiber costume
(rain), signifying the cooperation needed for a
successful harvest and community survival
20
SCULPTURE
  • 9 main forms
  • Masks
  • Ancestral figures
  • Fetish (power) figures
  • Reliquary figures
  • Royal portraits
  • Warrior/Hunter figures
  • Womanhood figures
  • Thrones and stools
  • Carved doors

Bamum Mask Cameroon
21
MASKS
  • Part of a costume to mask ones identity
  • Believed to transform the wearer to interact
    with and hopefully control supernatural spirits
    and forces
  • Can be worn in three different ways vertically
    covering the face as helmets, encasing the
    entire head, or as a crest, resting upon the head

22
MASKS
  • Most made of wood
  • Human and animal forms
  • Sometimes painted and other materials added
    (shells, fibers, feathers, metals, )

Baule Monkey Mask Ivory Coast
23
MASKS
  • Changed individuals into a spirit, force, or
    figure with power
  • Part of a performance or ceremony involving
    costume, music, and movement

The Dama ceremony is part of funerary rituals
that ends mourning and transitions the spirit of
the dead from the village to the spirit world
Ritual ceremonies generally depict gods, spirits
of ancestors, mythological beings, good and or
evil, the dead, animal spirits, and other beings
believed to have power over humanity
24
MASKS
  • Some masks are permanent, some for one use only
  • The masks represent or embody bush spirits, who
    are called upon to benefit mankind and the forces
    of nature on which life depends

Bwa leaf masks are used once in ceremonies to
encourage the cycles of nature and then discarded
25
MASKS
  • Rules were followed locally regarding
  • Shapes
  • Colors
  • Patterns

Crescent Cycle of moon start of
the initiation Black Adults White
Initiates X marks Scarification Wavy lines
Paths of ancient ancestors Checkerboard
Teaching of wisdom
Bwa Initiation Ceremonial Masks, Burkina Faso
26
MASKS
Bwa Initiation Ceremonial Masks, Burkina Faso
27
MASKS
Yoruba Gelede Ceremonial Mask Nigeria and Benin
28
MASKS
Dan Social Arbitrator Mask Ivory Coast Liberia
Senufo Ceremonial Mask Ivory Coast
Baule Mask Ivory Coast
29
FIGURAL SCULPTURES
  • Used to channel spirits
  • toward human goals
  • Protection
  • Stimulate fertility
  • Mark initiations
  • Commemorate event or individual

Akuaba dolls are carried and cared for by Ashanti
women who wish to become pregnant and also after
pregnancy to assure that their child would be
born beautiful
Ashanti fertility figures (Akuaba dolls) Ghana
30
ANCESTRAL FIGURES
  • Housed the spirit of a dead ancestor
  • Full-round stylized or abstract human forms
  • Usually carved from wood
  • Followed traditions
  • Forms
  • Materials

Allowed the ancestral spirit to remain as a vital
force within the community
Dan (L) -- Baule (R) - Ivory Coast
31
RELIQUARY FIGURES
  • Protected the remains
  • of the dead
  • Placed in basket with skeletal remains
  • Very abstract representations of the human form

Used to scare off evil forces and individuals who
may tamper with the remains
Reliquary Figures, Gabon
32
FETISH /POWER FIGURES
  • Fetishes were protective figures used by
    individuals, families, or communities to destroy
    or weaken evil spirits, prevent or cure
    illnesses, repel bad deeds, and decide arguments
  • Some figures were used to hunt out wrongdoers and
    to avenge their crimes
  • A diviner or holy person would activate the
    statue, using magical substances

33
FETISH /POWER FIGURES
  • Believed to be able to give
  • spirits physical form to
  • channel their energies
  • Full-round stylized human form
  • Carved from wood nails, pins, mirrors, blades,
    added to release power within figure

Nkisi Figure, Congo
34
ROYAL FIGURES
  • Portraits to honor kings,
  • queens, high-ranking
  • dignitaries
  • Naturalistic stylized human forms
  • Full-round
  • Made of wood, terracotta, or cast
    metals

Bronze Head of an Oba Benin Kingdom -Nigeria
Terracotta Head of a Queen Ife Kingdom -Nigeria
35
HUNTER/WARRIOR FIGURES
  • Honored individuals who
  • have helped to preserve or
  • protect the society
  • Highly stylized human forms
  • Full-round
  • Made of wood or cast metals

Male Figure, Mali Bronze
36
WOMANHOOD FIGURES
  • Honored women as leaders
  • within the society and as
  • givers and nurturers of life
  • Highly stylized/abstract human forms
  • Full-round
  • Made of wood or cast metals

In many regions, African mothers have always
owned the land, which is why the land is referred
to as the motherland
37
THRONES STOOLS
  • Royal thrones or seats
  • symbolize power, status,
  • heritage, prestige, and
  • authority within the
  • society
  • Made of wood
  • Often believed to house the soul of the owner
  • Thrones used for coronations and for special
    ceremonies
  • Precious metals (silver, gold) often added

Asante Throne, Ghana
38
THRONES STOOLS
  • Only those who own the stools or thrones are
    allowed to sit on them

39
DOORS
  • Carved wooden doors contained images markings
    that represented traditional tribal beliefs,
    icons of ancestors, or told stories of village
    history
  • Indicators of status within the community

Dogon door covered with the spirits of past
ancestors who protect and watch over the family
40
MUSIC
  • Usually associated with ceremonies, rituals, and
    celebrations
  • Polyphonic
  • Drums and percussion instruments, the balafon
    (xylophone), stringed and wind instruments, such
    as the reed flute, the kora and the kontingo
  • Beat and rhythm are the two main elements

kora
balafon
kontingo
41
DANCE
  • Ritual dance enforces and affirms the belief
    system of the society
  • Dances play a role in religious rituals they
    mark rites of passage, including initiations to
    adulthood and weddings they form a part of
    communal ceremonies, including harvest
    celebrations, funerals, coronations
  • Dances also offer entertainment recreation

Dogon stilt dancers, Mali
Ceremonial wedding dance, Nigeria
42
African Fabric Art
  • Valued trade commodity
  • Communicated a wearers kingship, group, or
    status within the community

43
African Fabric Art
  • Woven on looms
  • Stenciled
  • Block (Stamp) printed
  • Screen-Printed
  • Painted
  • Batiked/Resist
  • Tie Dyed
  • Embroidered

44
African Fabric Art
  • Adinkra cloth - Asante, Ghana
  • Designs first used to decorate funereal clothing
  • Today it is used to make clothing for such
    special occasions as festivals, church-going,
    weddings, naming ceremonies and initiation
    rites
  • Printed by block-printing (symbol stamps carved
    from gourds) printed with black dye made
    from tree bark

45
African Fabric Art
  • Adinkra
  • A symbol or design that tells a story or stands
    for an idea also used to refer to the kind of
    cloth that is decorated with adinkra symbols the
    word adinkra means farewell or goodbye

46
African Fabric Art
  • Stamp Symbolism

Adwera Watery Shrub Purity, Sanctity, Chastity,
Cleanliness Cleanliness, Good Fortune
Abe-Dua Palm Tree Self-sufficiency,
Resilience, Vitality, Wealth, Causation
Akoko Nan Hens Feet Parental Discipline,
Care, Tenderness Discipline, Protection
Adwo Peace Peace, Calmness, Continuity, Spiritua
l Coolness
47
African Fabric Art
  • Kente Cloth - Ghana
  • Made from cotton or silk dyed yarn
  • Woven on narrow horizontal loom
  • Strips 3-5 inches wide 5 feet long sewn
    together to make wider pieces of cloth
  • Patterns and colors have a
    symbolic
    meaning

King wearing adwinasa kente
48
African Fabric Art
Color symbolism in Kente Cloth
  • black -- maturation, intensified spiritual energy
  • blue -- peacefulness, harmony and love
  • green -- vegetation, planting, harvesting,
    growth, spiritual renewal
  • gold -- royalty, wealth, high status, glory,
    spiritual purity
  • grey -- healing and cleansing rituals associated
    with ash
  • maroon -- the color of mother earth associated
    with healing
  • pink -- assoc. with the female essence of life a
    mild, gentle aspect of red
  • purple -- assoc. with feminine aspects of life
    usually worn by women
  • red -- political and spiritual moods bloodshed
    sacrificial rites and death.
  • silver -- serenity, purity, joy assoc. with the
    moon
  • white -- purification, sanctification rites and
    festive occasions
  • yellow -- preciousness, royalty, wealth,
    fertility

49
African Fabric Art
  • Wax resist
  • Traced back to Javanese batiks brought to Africa
    by European traders in 17th century designs
    created by stepped applications hot wax and dye
  • Tie-Dye
  • Designs created on fabric by stitching or tying
    areas to resist dye

50
African Fabric Art
51
African Fabric Art
  • Bogolan Mud Cloth
  • Bamana peoples of Mali
  • Linear geometric designs drawn on dyed cotton
    cloth using a process of applied fermented mud
    from ponds and bleaching

52
African Fabric Art
  • Yoruba Adire Cloth
  • Indigo dyed cloth
  • Dye resist processes
  • Tie-dye
  • Batik with metal stencil stamps or hand painted
    with wax

53
African Fabric Art
  • Kuba embroidered and appliqué raffia cloth
    Congo
  • Fiber made from palm trees is dyed and woven into
    cloth
  • Additional designs are sewn on the cloth

54
ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • Empires
  • Ghana (750-1200 CE)
  • Mali (1200-1500 CE)
  • Songhay (1350-1600 CE)
  • City States
  • Ife
  • Hausa
  • Benin
  • Ashanti
  • Oyo

55
ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • Ghana (750-1200 CE) the land of gold an
    economic intermediary within the gold trade from
    south to north
  • Mali (1200-1500 CE) encompassed most of West
    Africa north of the forested region and also
    relied on trade of gold and salt
  • Songhay (1350-1600 CE) centered along the Niger
    river was once part of Mali empire but broke
    away. The city of Timbuktu intensified as a
    center of Islamic learning, attracting scholars
    from around the world

56
ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • A center for trade with Northern Africa,
  • Egypt, and Europe

57
ANCIENT WEST AFRICA
  • A center for trade with Northern Africa,
  • Egypt, and Europe

58
NOK CULTURE
  • Nigeria (500-200 BCE)
  • Center of agriculture and ore refining
  • Created high stylized terracotta human figures
  • Standing
  • Seated
  • Kneeling

59
NOK CULTURE
  • Terracotta figures made using addition and then
    carving (subtraction)
  • abstract
  • triangular eyes
  • perforated pupils
  • elaborate hair styles and jewelry

60
NOK CULTURE
  • Terracotta heads once part of entire human figure
    sculptures

61
IFE
  • Nigeria (1300-1600 CE)
  • First of Yoruba city-states or kingdoms,
    established government under a priestly oba,
    ('king' or 'ruler')
  • Powerful political
    center
  • Sacred/Holy city

62
IFE
  • Nigeria (1300-1600 CE)
  • Developed lost-wax metalworking traditions
  • Created naturalistic human portrait heads of
    royal individuals
  • Cast bronze
  • Terracotta

63
IFE
Bronze Royal Portraits and Royal Figure 1300-1400
CE
64
IFE
Terracotta Head 1300 CE
Bronze Head 1500-1600 CE
65
BENIN 1400-1600 CE
  • The kingdom of Benin was made up of the capital
    city, and the outlying districts
  • Benin City, the capital, was a fortified city
    that consisted of ramparts and moats, call iya,
    enclosing 2485 square miles of community lands
  • The Oba of Benin directed the control of these
    districts from the central government at the
    capital

66
BENIN Nigeria (1400-1600 CE)
Benin City - Seventeenth-century engraving
illustrating a court ceremony
67
BENIN
  • Nigeria (1400-1600 CE)
  • Created stylized human portrait heads placed on
    the altars of kings and free-standing figures
  • Cast bronze and brass
  • Terracotta
  • Created cast bronze relief plaques and doors

Altars functioned as a tribute to the deceased
and a point of contact with his spirit
68
BENIN
Portrait Heads 1700-1800 CE
Portrait Head of an Oba Brass Zinc 1700-1800
CE Edo peoples, Benin - Nigeria
69
BENIN
Entrance Panel to Royal Palace Brass 1700-1800
CE Benin - Nigeria
Mounted Warrior Brass 1700-1800 CE
70
BENIN
Plaques were mounted on the walls of the Oba's
Palace and recorded the history of the Benin
kingdom
Most depict the king or warrior chiefs
71
BENIN
Oba with Animals Brass Altar 1700-1800 CE Edo
peoples Benin Nigeria
72
BENIN
Cast Bronze Leopard
Bronze Male Portrait
Bronze Oba Portrait
Oba with Attendants
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