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Art Through the Ages Volume I. Early African Art. African Art. Philosophy: Art was created and conserved to honor the ancestors in preparation of the afterlife. Ancestor worship and nature deities Art was used for rituals Hunters and gatherers society

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african art
African Art
  • Philosophy: Art was created and conserved to honor the ancestors in preparation of the afterlife.
  • Ancestor worship and nature deities
  • Art was used for rituals
  • Hunters and gatherers society
  • Art differed according to a regions economy, lifestyle, ideology, and materials available to them.
  • Works were made from terracotta, ivory, cast metal
  • Art was used for trade
the earliest art in africa
The Earliest Art In Africa
  • The worlds earliest art was discovered in Africa
  • Rock engraving was one of the earliest mediums used in Africa.
  • Rock art was concentrated in the dry desert regions
  • There was a rich record of environment, human activities, and animal species
characteristics of nok art central sudan
Characteristics of Nok Art (Central Sudan)
  • Pierced eyes, mouth and ear holes.
  • Clay sculptures
  • Ritual context
nok head 500 b c 200 a d
Nok Head, 500 B.C.- 200 A.D.
  • Rafin Kura, Nigeria
  • Terracotta
  • 1’ 2 3/16”
heads of lydenburg south africa 6 th 8 th century
Heads of Lydenburg (South Africa), 6th – 8th century
  • Nearly life size terracotta heads discovered outside of Lydenburg
  • Heads were reconstructed from fragments of Terracotta
  • Scarification on forehead, temples, and between eyes
early iron age earthenware head lydenburg 500 600 a d
Early Iron Age Earthenware Head, Lydenburg, 500-600 A.D.
  • 210 mm
  • Radiocarbon date to about 500 to 600 A.D.
  • One of the seven Lydenburg heads
equestrain figure on fly whisk hilt igbo ukwu 9 th 10 th century
Equestrain Figure on Fly-Whisk Hilt, Igbo Ukwu, 9th – 10th Century
  • Copper-alloy bronze
  • 6 3/16” high
  • A bronze-casting tradition developed in West African during the 9th and 10th century.
  • Facial stripes (scarification) on the figure represents marks of status
  • Oldest metal castings known from regions south of the Sahara
king ile ife 11 th 12 th century
King, Ile Ife, 11th -12th century
  • Zinc-brass alloy
  • Represents a figure head
  • Contains precise detailed patterning
  • Idealized naturalism
  • Ife is considered the cradle of Yoruba culture and civilization
  • Figures served in rituals supporting divine kingship
ivory belt mask of a queen mother benin art mid 16 th century
Ivory Belt Mask of a Queen Mother, Benin Art, mid-16th Century
  • Ivory and Iron
  • 9 3/8” high
  • Royalty commissioned metal pieces and ivory carvings
  • Art was given as royal favors to title holders or other chiefs.
  • This mask was worn by a king at his waist.
bracelets crocodile heads benin art 17 th 19 th century
Bracelets: Crocodile Heads, Benin Art, 17th -19th century
  • 17th-19th Century
  • African art is often functional
  • African women wear all the jewelry the own at the same time, not just for ceremonies and festivals.
oba supported by attendants benin art 1500 1897 a d
Oba Supported by Attendants, Benin Art, 1500-1897 A.D.
  • Oba is the belief of the ability to accomplish great things
  • work depicts a king with a human torso but with legs formed by mudfish
  • The king needs the help of his two attendants to stand.
great zimbabwe southern africa
Great Zimbabwe (Southern Africa)
  • Great Zimbabwe is also known as “Africa’s Stonehenge”
  • Zimbabwe means Stone Enclosure in Shona
  • Complex Stone Structures
  • Zimbabwe was prosperous trade center, with a wide trade network
  • Soapstone birds, ancestor worship
walls and tower great enclosure great zimbabwe 14 th century
Walls and tower, Great Enclosure, Great Zimbabwe,14th Century
  • Stone
  • Eliptical Stone walls, used no mortar
  • Unusual for their size and excellence in stone work
  • Small pieces of stone were cut for decorative edging or insets
bird with crocodile image on top of stone monolith great zimbabwe 15 th century
Bird with Crocodile image on top of stone monolith, Great Zimbabwe, 15th Century
  • Soapstone,
  • Bird is interpreted as symbolizing the first wife of the rulers ancestors
sapi art west atlantic coast
Sapi Art (West Atlantic Coast)
  • Carved stone, wood and ivory objects, such as utensils, saltcellars, boxes, hunting horns, and knife handles.
  • Objects were made to export to Europe
  • Details on figures were characteristically European.
  • Large heads, flaring nostrils
master of the symbolic execution saltcellar sapi portuguese 15 th and 16 th century
Master of the Symbolic Execution, saltcellar, Sapi-Portuguese, 15th and 16th Century
  • Ivory, 15th-t16th century
  • Kneeling figure on top holds an ax and a shield and prepares to behead the slouched figure.
  • Circular platform is held up by slender rods adorned by crocodile images
beta medhane alem church lalibela ethiopia 14 th century
Beta Medhane Alem church, Lalibela, Ethiopia, 14th century
  • Largest rock-cut church
  • Work had to be visualized before work could begin
inland niger delta art western sudan
Inland Niger Delta Art(Western Sudan)
  • Subject matter includes:


Male and female couples

emaciated & diseased people

snake entwined figures

equestrian figure inland niger delta 13 th 15 th century
Equestrian figure, Inland Niger Delta, 13th- 15th century
  • Terracotta
  • 28”
  • Since the 1940s, low-fired ceramic figures and fragments have been unearthed at various sites in the Inland Niger Delta region.