|EARTH METROPOLIS AFRICAN STUDIES ART|
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When we think of the Nile Valley we think of the timelessness of civilization and Egypt’s architectural stone monuments on the West Bank of the Nile River. These monuments represent the cities of the dead; but little do we know about the metropolis areas of the living along the East Bank of the Nile. Click on black tool bar (first) and pictures (second) for more information in this section. This page is very, very, very long, so use the black tool bars to get to different parts of this one page. The pictures and green tool bar will take you to different pages. Click on the small yellow back buttons to return to the previous tool bar and click “Top” link if you wish to return to the top of this page. We are starting to add definitions to words used in the text. When ever you see them it is ok to click on the link in the text. A window will pop up defining the word. When finished you close the window.
Welcome to African Studies Art Page. This page is a survey of African art. People interested in using material for art appreciation and art history may find it very useful. African art collectors and art dealers can find it useful as a starting point for information needed in their business. We try to supply material that can be used in a variety of grade levels, though most of the curriculum and pedagogy in the education area is for college and universities. Feel free to use the feed back form on this page. Some materials used to supplement what you find may be in another location. You may need help in finding those materials.
Many of you are having problems finding what you are looking for. We can tell by what you type into search engines and the number of seconds you spend searching this page for what you want. This page is an art survey and is divided into geographical regions, because people living in a given geographical areas tend to share the same artistic traits and principles. The question is what geographical region is the art you are looking for? All of the geographic regions appear on the black tool bar above. On the black tool bar below we have placed the names of popular art groups that people look for, but they may not be listed by the terms you typed in the search engines. If you look at the dark blue title page (strip) at the very top of your web browser you may see terms you used to get to this page. We look for short phrases that come closes to matching what we have on a given page, but the words in that discipline may change once you get to this page. We then change from the casual terminology to terms used in this discipline. These pages will be used by students taking African Art classes and we want to get them in the habit of using the correct names for subjects pertaining to the discipline.
WHAT IS TRADITIONAL AFRICAN ART?
Traditional African Art is an ethnocentric point of view. In Traditional African Art, African culture is the driving force behind art; technology, economics, spiritually, design and African people. We are concerned with art that is capable of adsorbing outside influences with little notice, rather than the influences from outside absorbing it.
Traditional African Art was interrupted by the dawn of Western Civilization. Western Civilization began in Africa. Portuguese explores were searching for African slaves, gold and a rout to India and China. In the course of their journey they discovered ivory along the “Guinea Coast” and “Slave River in the Bite of Benin”.
The journey and origins of Western Civilization begin with ivory. Among the ivory cargo imported were tusks decorated with carved images. These images gave a young venture capitalist and banker named Bartolomeo Marchionni a splendid idea when importing slaves. Why not request skilled ivory craftsmen from African traders and kings to be included with the rest of the human livestock? Between 1480 and 1495 the first examples of Western Art were produced in one of Marchionni’s human sweatshops.
It is at this point that we separate the art produced based on African art principals from the art produced through Western principles. We are interested in the African dominance in art principles rather than the homogeneity of African Art and Western Art. Our interest is in African art produced by African people and we discriminate not on the basis of when or where African Art was produced, but on who, how and why it was produced.
The majority of Western and Central African art in our database and private collections come from works produced during 18th Century to the present day. African art continued to develop and change after the first Europeans arrived. It is only through a faithful few traditional African governmental groups, small kingdoms and African art collectors that we have any since of what African art is supposed to be like today. The small art items of Egypt were put in hiding places too numerous and well hidden to find. Most of the monuments along the Nile Valley were too cumbersome to steal or take anywhere and besides sandstone was not a valued commodity in the Western World.
In Egypt art iconography and Egyptian written characters are one in the same. In West and Central Africa all the art forms carry a written iconography, but there are no dates or history recorded in the art, only its identification and use. Egypt wrote a record of its own history; West and Central Africa have no written record therefore there is no Western or Central African art History as of now. …. To be continued ….
In conclusion I hope this brief presentation may be of some help concerning your use of this art introduction page. At a later date we will supply similar introductions or other lessons or pages as well. I hope this will help you with your better understanding of this page and that you will be able to achieve goals you set out to accomplish.
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My middle path, since of mission and self identity began with the Talladega Renaissance at Talladega College in Talladega Alabama. My family spent 7 years in that community until I was 10. When the family left Talladega to come to California I did not leave Talladega. I took it with me. My father Claude Clark was the major force, key and catalyst of the Renaissance. In the art department it was a one man show. He taught clay processing, ceramics, methods and materials in making oil paints; preparing canvases; printmaking, drawing, painting, and art history and art education. Some of the materials for glaze calculation were provided with the help of the College chemistry department. They got iron oxide from rusty cans and copper sulfate from corroded copper to produced glaze frits. I asked my father where did he order the frit and he had never heard that word before. He only used the term “gaze base”. My father and I had enough skills to set up art departments anywhere in the world. Talladega College is where I received my start as an artist and Talladega is were I learning my first nation building skills.
People who decide the course, or change in history for some strange reason are not always the ones trained or best qualified for that discipline. The movers and shakers are quite often people trained in other endeavors who become extremely dissatisfied, disgusted; sick and tired with things the way they are and wish to make a difference. Quite often the shakers may be people that sit and wait, thinking someone else will come along and make corrections. Guess what, the corrections are never going to happen, so there is only one thing left to do quit you’re complaining; get up and do it yourself.
I began clay modeling in summer 1959 while in junior high school. I was 14 yrs. old. The Talladega Renaissance would reach its peak by the time I was 18 yrs. of age. After 1963 that Chapter in my middle path would be closed for ever never to open again. I would move on to more advanced spinoffs of the Talladega Renaissance.
Four years had passed since the family moved from Talladega to come to Sacramento and then to Oakland California. As I mentioned earlier I was still in Talladega because I had some unfinished business to take care of. I had vowed before we moved to California that my father and those student were not making African Art, but that one day when I got older I would not only correct what they had attempted to do but do it better and I did. I had my chance in 1959 and the curtains closed on that chapter after high school graduation in 1963.
I became interested in indigenous art of Oceanic at age 12. I did not like what was being taught in public school because African culture heritage was not included in the education curriculum and learning about Europeans was very boring. My father attended Sacramento State College, Sacramento California. He was taking college courses in geography, paleontology and art anthropology. Art was my father’s major and anthropology became his minor. I took a deep interest in my father’s college minor courses. Each evening after I finished my school work I spent time reading my father’s text books.
When I started this project I had intended to write about traditional African art of west and central Africa exclusively. Fortunately I began approaching the problem geographically. I got my cue from Dr. William Russel Bascom’s book titled “African Art in Cultural Perspective, An Introduction”. I knew Bascom from the time I was 14. We never talked but we often saw each other when I came in and out of the anthropology museum at U.C. Berkeley. I always had a note pad and I was drawing and taking notes about Native American artifacts displayed in the museum. In 1962 Bascom exhibited images from the museum collection of traditional African art at the Oakland Museum House located on the corner of Fourteenth Street and Oak Street. I said “museum house” and that is exactly what it was back in the day. It was the museum's first show of African Art in Oakland California. I would go there to watch films on African art. In 1962 I had ceramic sculpture on exhibit at that first show. I was age 16 then. Both Bascom and his wife who was also an Anthropologist came to see an additional display of my work one evening at the Oakland Museum. I was getting some attention, because I had become quite an enigma. He had a chance figure out who I was and gain some hint of my mission. In his book he made acknowledgement of Dr. Anthony Okion Ojigbo a political science major from Nigeria. I knew Ojigbo and his wife very well. We used to engage in lengthy discussions about African art and culture.
TALLADEGA POST RENAISSANCE
I began writing African art essays in 1969 and started African woodcarving in 1973. My father published an art teacher’s guide in 1970. I wrote and illustrated the Traditional African Art section. My first dot com website was launched in 1997 and I began writing cyber essays in 1999. The first one was titled “Coin Conspiracy” but it did not acquired that title about 2002.
There are four animals depicted above on the right hand side. The first one is an insect, represented in the form of a butterfly. The butterfly serves as a footrest for person using the commemorative stool on the left. The animal on the bottom left of the same picture represents a fish. It is just a generic form of fish; no particular type of fish. The fish is used as a tray. An arachnid is next in the form of a spider. This spider is a work stool. The last item is a reptile and it is represented as a turtle. The turtle is a box. I have plans to do amphibian, mammal and a bird next.
In 1967 Dr. Bascom organized an in-depth, extensive exhibition of traditional west and central African art at the anthropology museum at U.C. Berkeley. I spent several months taking notes and recording that exhibit on color slide film. Occasionally I had a chance to hear him give a guided tour while I was at work. The next year I photographed the Paul Tishman African Art Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art In Los Angeles California.
Bascom had confiscated a large number of Ife bronzes from a compound in back of the Oni’s palace in Ile Ife. The Oni was very upset about that. So Bascom gave bronzes back, after making plaster copies of the originals.
When I became a graduate student at the University of California Berkeley in 1968, with the help of my father I was able to gain access to artifacts in the museum archives anytime I needed to. In 1976 I barrowed artifacts from the museum collection to exhibit at an art exhibit of African and African American art at San Jose State University where I was teaching African American Art History. I was curator of the exhibit.
During the late 1970’s my mother a teacher in African religion and philosophy, became interested Egyptian Civilization and suggested I go hear Dr. Ben Jochannan a Jamaican immigrant from Harlem New York. He grew up in Harlem under the influence of Marcus Garvey. I came to know him fairly well. Dr. Ben dressed like Garvey and he talked like Garvey. During the early 1980’s and mid 1980’s I heard in person several other scholars Dr. John Henrik Clarke, John George, Ivan Van Sertima and Theophile Obinga.
My father and I used George Peter Murdock’s book titled, “Africa its Peoples and Their Culture History” as a reference for organizing the art producing people in west and central Africa. The words “cultural history” is important concerning west and central Africa, because that may be all we can get historically. There is almost no history about the art. Most of the work is in wood and did not last long on the African continent. Metal and clay objects are much older, but not much is known about the work yet and there was no writing from that period of time. There are few exceptions. The Benin bronzes and chronology to go with the sculpture is still intact.
MAP OF AN ANCIENT AFRICAN CONTINENT
What were Africans doing before there were civilizations and who were these Africans? There were many Hominids types living in Africa. This is Homo rudolfensis. Homo sapiens, sapiens is just one of the many branches of human genotypes. Homo rudofensis looks much like our map of Africa does today. As you can see Nigeria and Cameroons are clearly defined. The great lake region on the eastern side of Africa is in place even though the Nile is not present. What is to become the Congo River is only a lake inside the Congo basin. As you can see things are beginning to shape up. For more information see BBC News.
Egyptian Architecture is stark, plain and massive, emphasizing the use of lines and polygon geometric forms.
This is a photograph of Step Pyramid at Saqqara from the 3rd Dynasty (2778-2723) B.C. Egypt (Kemet) is not a Mediterranean Civilization. The 3rd Dynasty is possibly earlier than Chinese Civilization. For the rest of the comparisons on this page you don’t need to include 1st and 2nd Dynasties because the 3rd is old enough.
Third was more sophisticated than anything on the planet during its time and if there were other civilization outside Africa earlier than the 3rd Dynasty, then 3rd Dynasty has Nubian and Punt to back it up.
Ancient Kemet is not a Mediterranean Civilization. I am the one that took this picture in 1985. I couldn’t even see the Mediterranean Sea from Saqqara. Alexandria and Rosetta are located on the Mediterranean Sea Coast North West of Cairo. Cairo is inland on the East Bank of the Nile. Giza is on the West Bank across from Cairo and slightly south. Saqqara is south of Giza. Memphis which is older than Saqqara is located on the West Bank south of Saqqara. Minoan and Mycenaean settlements were just beginning and the first Civilizations in the Fertile Crescent (in present day Iraq) were just beginning to emerge around the time of the step pyramid in Saqqara. By the 3rd Dynasty Egypt now a full blown civilization, had become the world’s first monumental civilization and the 4th Dynasty at Giza had not yet arrived. During the Thinite Period which dates between 3000 B.C. – 2778 B.C. King Nar-mer united Upper and Lower Egypt under one crown about 3000 B.C. or earlier. The 1st and 2nd dynasties are Thinite because the kings from that period are from Abydos. Abydos is the birth place of Egyptian Civilization. I will let you check out the birth place on a map later. Current studies seam to suggest that the Sphinx in Giza is definitely older than the great pyramids. In which dynasty is its origin; is it 3rd, 2nd, or 1st dynasty? Remember Nar-mer was pulling together territories in the both in the north and south of Abydos. Egypt is possibly older than 3000 B.C. The origins of Egyptian hieroglyphics are Nubian and most of the Egyptian gods are Nubian accept possibly Amen Ra. Amen lives in Punt; at least that is what the Egyptians tell us. The world’s oldest pyramids are located in the Sudan. Both Egypt and Nubian have their origins in the Land of Punt and Punt is located in the Horn of Africa not even close to the Mediterranean. © Claude Lockhart Clark July 19, 2012
Egyptians used a form of pictograph characters for writing. They learned how to write by using pictures from the Nubians. In Egyptian art all iconography was the same. You can see the same iconography used in writing, carved relief sculpture, free standing sculpture, furniture, architecture, painting, pottery and jewelry. Mixed in with the pictures were picture symbols that represented consonants. Egyptians did not depict vowel sounds. You had to guess what the vowel sounds were if you did not already speak the language.
Map Of Ancient Egypt © Copyright 1998, Jim Loy
The Egyptians were the first land surveyors. They produced an accurate means of measuring land in order to determine boundaries. A form of geometry was developed for this purpose. The invention occurred out of necessity. Famers would get into fist fight after the floods over who was stealing each others lands. This new invention helped control a number of social problems plus opened new avenues in landscaping and architecture. “Thus necessity is the mother of invention”.
Before the invention of the plow in Egypt, Africans used a hoe and they organized their plots in a series of grids. Egyptians continued to cultivate farmland inside rectangular grids. The squares and rectangles were much larger than the grids of people using the hoe in the south. The plow was a much large farm tool so it needed a larger grid. CLC
Africa is the cradle of Hominids. Africa is the birth place of Homo sapiens. Human Civilization began in Africa. The earliest forms of agriculture began along the Nile. Cattle razing began in the Near East along the Fertile Crescent and quickly spread to North Africa. Iron smelting was started in the Sudan. The first cities and metropolitan centers began in Africa. Egypt is the birth place of the worlds first metropolis. Egyptians learned the arts of stone cutting and pyramid construction from the Nubians. The ancient Egyptians learned writing, math and sciences from the Nubians, Kingdom of Kush and Punt. During the 18th Dynasty between (c. 1385 B.C. - c. 1350 B.C.) the pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Akenaten) created heresy by proclaiming there was one god "Aten", thus making Egypt the birth place of monotheism. Egypt helped spread the blessings and evils of civilization to the rest of the world outside of Africa. The basic concepts and principles of civilization began in Africa. Egypt was one of the last in a long line of Nile Valley Civilizations and Egypt was the world's first monumental civilization.
Nubian Architecture is decorative and linear emphasizing curves and rounded geometric forms. The example shown here is a product of Kush Civilization. It is "Kiosk" located at Naqa, Sudan sixth cataract, south of Meroe. The temple in the back ground to the left characterizes Egyptian architecture in its use of polygons.
Another View of Kiosk
Kiosk and the Temple of Amun were built during the Christian era, so there are Egyptian and Roman characteristics present as well, but the characteristics I described should reflect both old and new Nubian as well. The earliest columns were probably cubical rather than cylinder columns. The Egyptian buildings at Abydos reflect earlier cubical column types.
Temple of Amun, Naqa, Sudan (15 AD - 40 AD)
Nubians developed the column which aloud architects to build structures with wide open interiors. Egypt could use this Nubian structure to develop larger monuments. Nubians produced the first pyramids, but they could not build big pyramids because they kept falling down. I think I have seen an early version of the Sphinx produced by Nubians, nothing near the scale produced by Egyptians in Giza. The great Sphinx in Giza was not produce during the fourth dynasty. That information is incorrect. There were no Great Pyramids in Giza then. The Great Sphinx was the largest architectural sculpture in that area for a long time, by itself. I saw a few very large pyramids near Giza that never made it because they kept falling down. Egyptians built their first great pyramid monument by constructing it in five layers like a layered cake.
Anything that comes earlier than Egypt would be old and ancient as far as I am concerned. Egypt would be a great introduction for anyone studying both early and current civilizations, because most of the frills, institutions, bureaucracies, politics, social issues, and problems of the day, corruptions and plagues of society were already in place by then. After the rise and fall of Egypt there is very little new under the sun. Studying Egypt is like viewing your own reflection in the past before it happened and studying Nubian Civilization is learning about how it got like that in the first place.
It was the ancient Egyptians that told us to “Know thy self” and they probably heard the Nubians say it first. They should know. Instead of beating our selves on the chest like some chimpanzee or guerilla we need to get down to business.
Nubian Civilization, Kingdom of Kush and Meroe are all Nubian Civilizations. Nubian Civilization had many off shoot cultures, kingdoms and civilizations. Egypt was once a Nubian settlement which later grew into a civilization after which it became the most famous civilization in the world and still is to this day. Egyptians developed their own language and political autonomy; then separated them-selves from Nubian Civilization. The ancient Kingdom of Kush was created by Nubians and run by Nubians. After receiving its own anatomy, Egypt would then inspire other people to become civilized through out the known world and several of those civilizations would come back to haunt both Egypt and Nubian people.
Civilization meant many different things to different cultures and different people. The culture those people had before becoming civilized would play a major role in their development. People did not get rid of old beliefs and practice after becoming civilized. Civilization reinforced those beliefs and provided an adversary with a weapon to wreak havoc and misery on you later. If you give a mad dog a decent meal and place to stay with out curing its disease you would have probably been better off had you left that dog the way he was, because its ill fate might come back to haunt you; therefore let a sleeping dog lie. There was another reason for the Nile Valley collapse and collapse of African Civilizations as a whole. African Civilizations never developed their masses of people. Therefore the people didn’t have tools need to support their governments when ever there was trouble. African leaders still don’t develop the masses. Julius Nyerere is one of the few that knew what was needed to sustain a country, but his programs never got the support needed from the wealthy and middle classes. Meroe was the last Nubian Civilization. Nubians attempted to over throw the Romans, drive them out of Egypt and then restore Egypt to its original glory. The jubilation only lasted 200 yrs. When the Romans recovered from their defeat they went on a rampage from Alexander to Meroe. By destroying Meroe the Romans succeeded in destroying both Nubian Civilization and Egyptian Civilization at the same time. The destruction of Meroe became the key to getting rid of all Nile Valley Civilizations, unless of course you want to say that the Land of Punt survived. How could that happen? Large trees provoke the pride of strong winds while small, “weak” saplings go unnoticed. What took people 8,000 yrs. to build unscrupulous barbarians came along and destroyed it in seconds, so beware. Peace - © Claude Lockhart Clark July 24, 2012
Civilization meant many different things to different cultures and different people. The culture those people had before becoming civilized would play a major role in their development. People did not get rid of old beliefs and practice after becoming civilized. Civilization reinforced those beliefs and provided an adversary with a weapon to wreak havoc and misery on you later. If you give a mad dog a decent meal and place to stay with out curing its disease you would have probably been better off had you left that dog the way he was, because its ill fate might come back to haunt you; therefore let a sleeping dog lie.
There was another reason for the Nile Valley collapse and collapse of African Civilizations as a whole. African Civilizations never developed their masses of people. Therefore the people didn’t have tools need to support their governments when ever there was trouble. African leaders still don’t develop the masses. Julius Nyerere is one of the few that knew what was needed to sustain a country, but his programs never got the support needed from the wealthy and middle classes.
Meroe was the last Nubian Civilization. Nubians attempted to over throw the Romans, drive them out of Egypt and then restore Egypt to its original glory. The jubilation only lasted 200 yrs. When the Romans recovered from their defeat they went on a rampage from Alexander to Meroe. By destroying Meroe the Romans succeeded in destroying both Nubian Civilization and Egyptian Civilization at the same time. The destruction of Meroe became the key to getting rid of all Nile Valley Civilizations, unless of course you want to say that the Land of Punt survived. How could that happen? Large trees provoke the pride of strong winds while small, “weak” saplings go unnoticed. What took people 8,000 yrs. to build unscrupulous barbarians came along and destroyed it in seconds, so beware. Peace - © Claude Lockhart Clark July 24, 2012
Too much emphasis has been placed on the Nile River and not enough studies about people living away from the Nile. There was the African horn. There was much activity taking place in that area. People were living there. What were they doing there and who were they?
The Land of Punt; what is that? Punt was created separate from Nubian Civilization. We think it is older than Nubian. African American historians often called "The Land of Punt" Ethiopian Civilization, but there is vey little evidence to show that Punt began in Ethiopia. It began in the low lands close to water in a place known as Eritrea and Somalia. Ethiopia is in the rugged highlands away from great bodies of water. The Land of Punt that the Egyptians referred to was located in the African Horn along the cost line of the Red Sea South Eastern Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia, Djibouti in Africa and South Western Arabian Coast and Yemen in the Near East. The Egyptians referred to Punt as the land of Amen (Egypt’s supreme deity), suggesting that the Nubian and Egyptian Sun deity lived there. All Egyptian and Nubian gods had there place of origin. Perhaps Land of Punt is older than Nubian Civilization and is one of the founders Nubian Civilization. Punt later went on to become the founders of Axum and the Ethiopian Empire both located in the Ethiopian highlands to the south.
Abukar Ali, a former newsman and accomplished translator, believes that the majority of Nubian gods came from Punt. Here is his studied titled “THE LAND OF THE GODS”.
There is another irony concerning The Land of Punt. Some of the world’s leading scientists, zoologists, geologists, anthropologists, and paleontologists live in Punt. Their ancestors started civilization and now people of Punt are trying to find out who we are and where we came from. They most important fined so far was a Hominid named “Ardi” that was a close link between modern chimpanzees and modern Hominids. Scientists co-leaders Berhane Astaw; Giday Wolder, Yohanes Haile-Selassie and and other Ethiopian scientists are working with European and American scientists along the Somalia Ethiopian boarder just inside the land of Punt. The specimens found there are tested in over 36 science laboratories around the world.
BRONZE CAST OF AN ONI FROM ILE IFE
The bronze head you see before you is not bronze at all. This sculpture is made of brass, a combination alloyed made of copper and zinc and possibly a small amount of lead. If information from the British Museum is correct the alloyed was not a local alloyed. It was produced from brass rods transported across the Sahara desert by camel caravans(see research material at British Museum,London). The brass rods came in such small amounts that the brass casters in Ile Ife had to learn how to use the metal very sparingly. This head is light in weight and reveals a small shortage of metal along the lower right side, bottom of the neck. There are no gates or vent attachments detected making this example almost a perfect cast.
The head you see was produced before the Italian Renaissance and it is older than Western Civilization. This brass cast was produced between the tenth and twelfth century A.D. which makes this sculpture 800 years or more old, almost a thousand years, which would be slightly less than half the age of European Civilization. This sculpture was the end results of two very different civilizations meshing together and coming up with an ingenious plan. The Oyo-s’ were from Egypt. They were driven to that area as a result of Islamic expansion and the Arab slave trade. They probably came in several waves, the first group Oyo-s may have been Coptic Christians, followed later by a wave of Muslims. The Nupe and other indigenous people had been in this region for thousands of years. These two very different set of experiences would come up with a plan that would revolutionize the global art world concerning human images. It would not be until the 19th century, 700 years later that artists in Europe would come up with the same theory from a different perspective.
The Oyo-s’ were not a large group of people. They were very small in terms of numbers. They established themselves by leveraging the power of the indigenous priesthood of Ile Ife. The priesthood in Ife was recognized and respected by many communities in what was to become known as Yoruba Land. Oduduwa probably did not come directly from the Nile. Oyo migration probably was a gradual movement that took several generations to accomplish. Oduduwa sometimes referred to as Olofin Adimula (by one account) may have migrated from a community inside Yoruba Land. One theory has it that the Oyo-s’ originated in Ekiti and Okun sub-communities in northeastern Yoruba Land. That would only have been a temporary settlement long enough obtain familiarity with language, religion and customs of the region. The Oyo-s next move to the city of Old Oyo was probably where Oduduwa inters the picture. This move placed the Oyo-s close enough to observe the political infrastructure in Ife thus providing Oyo-s with enough knowledge concerning how to gain leveraging power to use Ile Ife as a “Trojan Horse” to conquer the rest of the region.
There were not a dozen brass heads cast, two or three dozen brasses cast made. We do not know how many cast were made and how they were distributed. This example probably represents an Oni of Ile Ife, but the Alaafin of Oyo had portraits made too. The Oyo are the ones that implemented and controlled the brass portrait casting process. They tried to keep knowledge of this type of casting within the confines of Ile Ife. The Alaafin shared knowledge of brass portrait cast only with his older brother in Edo City (the city of Benin). The Oyo-s presented brass gifts to other parts of Yoruba Land but they would not tell or reveal the secrets of the process. There were large full brass figures made. Only one is known to exist from the Nupe village of Tada. It is believed that the Nupe people may have been the architects of Nok Civilization that dominated the region before the Oyo-s came. Several settlements in Yoruba Land learned how to produce human life like portraits in terracotta but only Ife produced the brass ones.
There is much confusion concerning how Ife brass sculptures relate to Greek sculpture. How does Ife portrait sculpture compare with Greek portrait sculpture, what are the similarities? The answer to that question is very simple, “they don’t”. Let me clear this up for you so that there won’t be any further confusion regarding this matter. First we need to go back to Athenian Greece and Ancient Kemet where all this mess started in the first place. The Western mind appears to be pervasive throughout the planet earth. However there are at least two civilizations (China and Far Eastern Civilizations) and a variety of cultures in Africa and elsewhere that might see this scenario much quicker than people schooled only in European and/or Western Civilization thinking. In Western thought people are taught to see human likeness only from Greco-Roman perspective and if the style of human portraiture doesn’t meet those requirements, they fail to conceive the possibility that there may be other options. European and Western scientist both have that same problem. The Egyptians were a very spiritual people. They could not conceive or envision a secular world. That concept would have no meaning to them. The same is true with the rest of Africa. The Athenians on the other hand were atheist. They were the first people to introduce a secular society to the civilized world. They believed that their gods were human like and lived on mount Olympus. They also believed that “Man was the measure of all things”. If there were problems to be solved Athenians did not leave any of the solutions to be corrected by nature. Athenians attempted to correct it themselves or study the problem long enough so that it could be corrected by humans at a later date. The later date evolved when Eugenics Society and scientist demonstrated the capability to manipulate biologic engineering of perfect genes and chromosomes in order to produce a more desirable species of human kind. Back then all the Athenians could do was produce art. They would have to wait another 2,000 years in order to accomplish there real objective.
Egyptians on the other hand believed that there were two creative worlds; one consisting of nature and the other realm of art or human creativity and that both of these worlds were governed by the sun and other universal forces. They believed on one hand that nature knew best how to do it was doing and that humans should be concerned with creating a “cultural universe” of their own which would be entirely different from nature, but supportive of natural world. They did not wish to show any disrespect for nature by coping the creators work. Egyptians would continue to produce culture while creation continued producing nature and the two would some how work together. Where the two civilizations Greece and Kemet were quite similar is that neither Greece nor Kemet believed in harmonizing with nature or at least they never showed it in practice. Egyptians had since of insecurity and inferiority complex concerning nature. They were not able to initiate longevity and doctors were not able to control diseases that deformed and claimed human lives so Kemet tried to compensate for this. Civilization gave Egyptians a false since of being able to concur something, possibly by performing all these unusual cultural tasks the gods might do them a favor. The god kings and enormous monuments were testament of that desire to control and the Athenians were quick to pick up on that inconsistency and carry it to the next level by declaring that “Man was the measure of all things”. The art of both Kemet and Athens reveal the need to control their lives.
Athenian field of medicine was not advanced enough to make physical changes in the human species so they accomplished what they wanted to see in human development through their art. Their idea was to produce a perfect human image. Nature was messing up and surely Athenians could do better than that. Their portraits in bronze and stone looked like real people but any signs of skin wrinkles or aging were missing. This approach to human portraiture was given the term “Realism”. The Greeks interestingly enough began with the same approach for modeling a human figure that the Egyptians were using. It helped them with completing there task of producing “Realism”, but they did not realize that there was a better way of trying to accomplish what they were after. Students in Western art are still taught to achieve human likeness by using the same archaic approach to constructing human images. The Greeks never understood why Egyptian artists were using polygons in the first place.
Egyptians put straight and six sides on nearly everything they built. Their world consisted of polygons. By using this construction procedure and maintaining polygon principles in their finished product no one could ever accuse Egyptians of coping nature, because Egyptians did not see any of these principles used in nature.
Egyptians applied straight lines and six sides to nearly everything they built. Their world consisted of polygons. By using this construction procedure and maintaining polygon principles in their finished product no one could ever accuse Egyptians of coping nature, because the human culture principles they used did not appear to be the same principles being used in nature. The Athenians saw Egyptian art as being “Stylized” because Egyptians did not know how to make human portraiture look “Real”.
We will now view sculpture procedures in Ife using Nok sculptures as reference. We must keep in mind that human principles are important in the making of art rather than natures principles used in creation, because humans must not interfere with nature’s work.
Nok people used the cone, sphere and cylinder for producing sculpture. Nok people were very peculiar. They would take any one of the three forms and construct a whole human head. The Nok produced a variety of cylinder heads, cone heads and sphere heads. This peculiar relationship to the human form must have appeared extremely bazaar and strange to the Oyo-s who were used to the Egyptian polygon approach. What was nice about Nok was you could never forget that you saw these three forms being used to compose sculpture, because the Nok people made an issue of their use by repeating the process so many times.
Then it appears as though someone perceived an idea; why not specialize each of the forms used? The head became a sphere, neck a cylinder and the cone played a part where ever it was needed. © Claude Lockhart Clark August 11, 2012
IGBO-UKWU BRASS CAST
This is a brass or bronze casting done by Ibo metal casters during the tenth century AD. Copper alloyed casting was being done in both Yoruba Land and Igbo Land around the same time. What is remarkable about some of the Igbo-Ukwu bronzes is the complexity of the cast art. The cast you see here has two distinct parts that are attached in some places. A vase sits inside a lace like outer structure. The two sculptures probably were produced from one mold, one single cast rather than two separate casts.
The Igbo are a recent group of people in South Eastern Nigeria. The ruling class brought with them influences from out side the same as the Yoruba in South Western Nigeria (see “Ife” Black Tool Bar link).
|Top | Edo People | Western Civ. | Bartolomeo Marchionni | Share/Castrate | Soft Slavery | Coin Conspiracy | | | ||
These two images depict two very different views of Portuguese done by two Edo artists. The bronze image is an Edo concept of what a Portuguese Soldier look like to an Edo (Bini) craftsman. The image of the Portuguese Soldier is viewed from an African world, not a hybrid world. Western Civilization is a Hybrid Civilization it grew out of Europe’s association with it’s over seas colonies. This image of a Portuguese Soldier is not Western Art. It is African art even though a European is subject in the sculpture. The ivory sculpture is not European Art though it reflects many of its values and at the same time it is only partly African. Therefore the ivory sculpture is a hybrid mixture of two worlds and must be considered Western Art.
Saltcellar: Portuguese Figures, 15th–16th century Nigeria; Edo peoples, court of Benin Ivory
ON VIEW: GALLERY 352 Last Updated July 27, 2012
"This saltcellar created by a Benin ivory carver reflects a local interest and emphasis on extensive detailing of dress and regalia found in other forms of Benin court art. Articulated in exacting detail, four Portuguese male figures, two richly adorned men and their attendants, are depicted around the perimeter of the receptacle. The higher status figures are depicted frontally, facing outward. The attendants are in profile, more crudely rendered, and in motion.
This saltcellar created by a Benin ivory carver reflects a local interest and emphasis on extensive detailing of dress and regalia found in other forms of Benin court art. Articulated in exacting detail, four Portuguese male figures, two richly adorned men and their attendants are depicted around the perimeter of the receptacle. The higher status figures are depicted frontally, facing outward. The attendants are in profile, more crudely rendered, and in motion.
The two wealthier men are laden with the trappings of their status. This includes the patterned high-crowned hat with a feather decorating its brim, the knee britches, a buttoned doublet with flaring shoulders and sleeves and bodice, keys, crosses, swords, and spears. Two-dimensional fabric patterns are translated into low relief, endowing the work's surface with an intricately arranged series of textures. This baroque layering of forms nearly disguises the structure of the object.
This particular saltcellar is one of four of almost identical design; the others are currently in European collections. This is the only one that has survived primarily intact. It is believed that the four were intended as a set, perhaps as a gift for a patron's table".    © Latrice logika Gedink Posted August 14, 2012PEOPLE
BENIN AND/OR EDO PEOPLE
The people of Benin City Nigeria call themselves Edo people and the name of their royal city is Edo as well. The Portuguese are the ones that used the terms Bini and Benin, which points out another characteristic of Western Civilization. Imperialist were always naming things after themselves or giving names that pointed out characteristics that interested them. These same terms were then passed on to the indigenous people that lived there for thousands of years. This process can be referred to as “mental colonization”. Colonization is not a country; colonization is a process. It begins mentally and spiritual first, before becoming physical. Once the mental paralysis process begins death and rigor mortis can complete the process.
The Edo royal family has biological links with the Yoruba-s in Old Oyo City. The art of Ife City bronze casting was introduced into Edo City by the Oyo-s during the 14th Century.WEST
SHERBRO LIDDED IVORY SALTCELLAR
This ivory saltcellar was produced for Portuguese clientele in 15th Century AD on Sherbro Island, off the Coast of Sierra Leon. Ivory artwork produced on this island mark the “Beginnings of Western Art”. This was during the height of the Italian Renaissance in Europe. Western Civilization was just getting started in European colonies. This is one of the finest examples of Western art works produced during that period of time. Ivory carvings produced by Sherbro and Edo craftsmen rival any ivory carvings produce in Europe and Asia during that time or hence. Africans produced some of the best.
This Sherbro Island Lidded Saltcellar was donated as a gift to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, New York in 1991, by Paul and Ruth W. Tishman. The sculpture was carved between the 15th and 16th Century. It measures 11 3/4 in. (29.8 cm) in height. Wild elephants still lived on Sherbro Island the time this sculpture was carved. The quote listed below was taken from a blog and may not be an original statement of its author. The quote may be that of an art curator or art historian. I have attributed it to the author of the blog since that is where I obtained the quote.
Afro-Portuguese Ivories, by Latrice logika Gedink Posted August 14, 2012 in Hot Topics.
ON VIEW: GALLERY 352 Last Updated July 27, 2012
“This saltcellar is both an extraordinary example of skilled workmanship and an artifact that epitomizes a singularly important convergence of cultures. In the second half of the fifteenth century, Portuguese explorers and traders were impressed by the considerable talent of ivory carvers they encountered along the coast of West Africa. As a result, they were inspired to commission works of this kind for their patrons, which ingeniously combine both European aesthetics and forms with those of Africa. During this period, salt and pepper were costly commodities and elaborate receptacles were appropriate for their storage in princely homes.
The top half of the piece includes four delicate rosettes and is crowned by what appears to be a distinctly European-looking rose. The spiraling interlocking forms may relate to a similarly entwined beaded style called gadrooning in early sixteenth-century Portuguese decorative arts.
The lower half includes imagery relating to indigenous African belief systems. The snakes may refer to spirits who are believed to bring immense riches to those who control them. It is possible that this is a reference to wealth gained through trade with the Portuguese. The four snakes appear to approach and almost touch noses with four growling dogs. According to regional traditions, dogs are considered spiritually astute animals able to see spirits and ghosts that are invisible to humans. This depiction of the dogs, with teeth bared, hair bristling, and ears laid back, may relate to that supernatural ability. However, the level of animation in this scene could also derive from chivalric hunting scenes in European woodcuts, which were furnished to local African artists by their European patrons.
The delicate gap between the descending snakes and the snarling dogs creates a dynamic of dramatic tension that dominates the work. The four African figures along the base appear to be a series of attendants, individuals of no particular rank. The women rest their hands on their genitalia, emphasizing their fertility, while the men hold swords and shields.”    © Latrice logika Gedink Posted August 14, 2012
SHERBRO ISLAND OFF THE COAST OF SIERRA LEON
From these photographs we are able to notice two important contributions that Portuguese made concerning European Imperialism. First they began establishing Western Civilization through art and they made it possible to do this by demonstrating how to gain control of foreign lands. The Portuguese establish island post first and other European colonist that followed used exactly the same procedure. The islands served as fortress against European adversaries. Here are some of the names of island posts established in the Old and New World Macau-Taipa, Hong Kong, Jamestown Virginia, Manhattan, Loango Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lagos Nigeria, Santo Domingo and countless others.
Another interesting factor the Portuguese established was that the artisans and skilled craftsmen could be made to produce items for European taste and consumption that had never been seen before. The artifacts produce were more than adequate and suitable for European needs, but the designs reflected cultures that they were not familiar with, providing Europe with a fresh new look for change. European artisans began to implement designs and patterns of other cultures into their own lifestyles.
We will begin to see how Western Civilization takes root in Africa and the problems it presents for Africa people before it takes root anywhere else in the world. Sapi, Edo and Kongo are the earliest examples of people sharing in this process.
"...What was there about Sierra Leone and Benin during the early days of Portuguese trading that differed from the rest of West Africa? In 1480, the Portuguese King, John II, sold the right to trade slaves, spices, and elephant tusks from Guinea to Bartolomeo Marchionni, a wealthy Florentine banker and merchant in Lisbon, for forty thousand crusados.(4) Sierra Leone, situated on the Atlantic coast of Africa, was at that time included as part of Guinea. This license was extended in 1486 to include the Slave River in the Gulf of Benin and was further extended to 1495 in return for 6.3 million reis(5) for each year that Marchionni held the contract.(ii) King John II followed by his nephew Manuel, maintained control of the trade between Guinea and the Gulf of Benin, where they had located a steady supply of gold at Elmina. The Portuguese were mainly interested in gold, slave trading and in finding a sea route to India. Marchionni had established an extensive network of agents and clients that extended from Portugal to Spain to England, Flanders and Italy. His influential patrons included the Kings of Portugal and Spain and associates from Florence, like Lorenzo de Medici.(iii) He was the dominant trader in slaves from West Africa. Slaves he obtained from Benin were traded with the African gold merchants at Elmina for gold. Those he could not sell were taken to Madeira to work on the sugar plantations or to the slave house in Lisbon for sale in Europe".
The following is only my option, however I am convinced that it is a fact. I have dealt with it ever since I was a young boy from age 10. I began hanging out with Japanese children in school. At the time I lived in Sacramento California. The Japanese community had been out of prison for only 10 yrs. I know what I said; I said that they were in “prison”, because that is exactly where they were. Their property and personal possessions were taken away from them in 1942 and never returned. They were allowed to take only things that would fit in a suitcase. Many were American citizens and all Japanese living in the states of Washington, Oregon and California were denied due process of the law and transported to prison camps. Before incarceration Japanese parents were teaching their children to become American. They were not teaching their children the old ways of Japan, so prison for them served as a wakeup call.
We lived in Sacramento for three years and I went to Cherry Blossom Festival every single year and stayed all day. Cherry blossom time and the death of Emmett Louis Till were enough of a wakeup call for me. I knew that my time had come and I had better do something fast.
Western Civilization was created for one purpose only; to serve and protect the interest of European Civilization. Some former European colonies became international bullies to protect European interest, others became avid consumers and then there were street hookers and prostitutes proving their pimp masters with cheep labor, cash crops, minerals and natural resources.
KONGO BRASS CAST CRUCIFIX AND PORTUGUESE CITY COLONY OF LOANGO
This little brass fetish is an example of Western art produced for African use by the Kongo people after Portuguese tried unsuccessfully to make Christians out of them. The images the Portuguese brought with them did not look like this one. The image the Portuguese brought with them suffered from albinism and stringy hair. The Kongo people did not like that one, because they had their own concept of spirituality and what the image on the cross should looked like.
MAP OF LOANGO COAST AND KONGO PORTUGUESE IVORY
Moorish Home Exterior
Moorish Home Interior
When we think of North Africa the first thing comes to mind are the Phoenician ships that sailed across the Atlantic to the New World (Americas). We are also reminded of Moorish architecture that left its mark on Southern Europe and continues to influence Western Civilization home interior and exterior architecture to this day. The Moors produced many of the furnishings used by interior designers and decorators.
Don’t get Southern Mediterranean Civilizations and Nile Valley Civilizations confused. The two civilizations are not in the same league. They originated on different playing fields. When the baskets of Fertile Crescent Goodies were brought into North Africa by foreigners Egyptian Civilization was already in place. Egyptian Civilization’s origins are Nile Valley not Mediterranean. When The Moors and Phoenicians swept across North Africa they came laden with Fertile Crescent Goodies. The Phoenicians came from the Eastern Mediterranean shores of the Near East and the Moors were straight out of Arabia. The Moors and Phoenicians were riding the backs of white horses when they came into North Africa. The early Egyptians did not have any horses. CLC
When the Phoenicians came in to North Africa where Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco are today, there were people living there. These people were basically from Europe and Africa. They had developed an African culture of their own. When the Phoenicians arrived they brought with them architecture and art from the Eastern Mediterranean. They were a mixture of Semitics, Caucasians and Africans consisting of Dravidian and Negroid people, physical types. The Dravidian and Negroid physical types are often referred to as Black People by some historians and many go as far as saying they are a “Black Race” of people. There are a large group of historians that classify Dravidians as Semitic people or Caucasian. We are concerned with art images and artifacts made by people living in Africa. That is a cultural issue. A person’s physical type should not be the first issue. In our study culture comes first.
Carthage architecture and sculpture resembles architecture and sculpture of the Near East, Greco-Roman and Etruscan cultures. Phoenician writing was an alphabet like the Greeks and Romans. It was strictly abstract character symbols and no pictures. African cultural characteristics are harder to find in Phoenician culture than the ones exhibited in Moorish art and architecture.
Tuareg Leather Box
Tuareg Camel Saddle
Tuareg Siver Jewelery
When we think of Sahara Desert we see an obstacle created from mountains made of sand. We see a place where animals and plants can not survive. Quite to the contrary human camel caravans constantly cross the Sahara. When they leave poop and pee in the sand scarabs are attracted to water, nutrients and bacteria left in the feces and urine. Desert lizards finding scarabs dine on the tasty little morsels. And other animals that crawl and fly feed off the lizards. There is enough animal and human traffic crossing the Sahara to make it worth while living there. How cool.
There is another secret about the Sahara Desert I think you should know. The sand mountains are not permanent. When the desert winds start blowing around there the sand mountains move somewhere else. How would you like to be caught in a sand storm when a mountain of sand is on the move? Tuareg caravans encounter them all the time.
|Mossi Mask||Dogon Door||Senufo Mask||Bamana Head Piece||Bobo Mask||Kurumba||Mama Mask||Sankore Mosque|
West African is made up of Arid Steppe and Savannah Dry-Rainforest. The steppe region is located between the Sahara Desert in the north and Savannah Dry-Rainforest areas in the south. The Western Steppe receives less rain than the Savannah and Dry-Rainforest regions to the south. The Steppe consists of grass, brush and thicket accented by an occasional tree. This area of Africa has two seasons a year wet and dry seasons. Rain comes only during the six months of wet season. Western Steppe has many rivers and lakes that don't appear on world maps, because these bodies of water only exist when it rains. During the six months of dry season the temporary lakes and streams dry up. Droughts plague this rejoin as well. Occasionally a lake may last for several years; long enough to support large numbers of fish, boats and fishing communities; then it would eventually dry up and disappear. The Niger river and the Songhai people are the two constant bodies that remain in that area year after year. It has been said "If you want to kill a Songhai take him far away from the Niger". The same can probably be said about the Niger River as well. CLC
West Africa is known for having the most abstract sculpture of mankind and it is the Arid Steppe region where the most extreme abstractions can be found. There has been no such thing as non objective art in traditional African art. All images in traditional African culture represent something and there was no image which could not be identified. Woodcarving was often the work of a blacksmith. Woodcarvers used the same principles used in farming, iron work and woodcarving. Farmers strike the soil with a hoe. Iron smithies strike metal using a stone or iron hammer and strike the wood using a steel adze. Blacksmiths made iron sculpture and often did bronze casting as well. Blacksmiths were the smelters. Blacksmiths in this region did not have to do any farming. They made hoes, cutlasses for farmers and hunting gear for hunters during periods of farming and carved wooden masks and sculptures during off seasons. Their wives in most cases made pottery.
The woodcarvings reflect the blacksmiths metal work. Metalwork, scarcity of wood and Islam seem to be the three major influences on woodcarving in the region. Islam seems to have influenced African art disappearance more than it has the appearance of design or artwork. Geometric designs were being used in that part of Africa long before Islam came into the region. Telem woodcarvings and Dogon woodcarvings are good examples of testimonial concerning before and after the influence of Islam. The wood cavers in this area were influenced by metal smiths first. The carvings reflect first and foremost “Iron against Wood”. The two media are integrated in the woodcarving in such away that the wood is respected for being what it is wood rather than trying to be metal. The scarcity of wood plays an important but lesser role in the appearance of the art.
This is also the region where the Great West African civilizations were born, such as Ghana, Mali and Songhai along the Niger River. The cultures in this region of Africa reflect the same instability as ecosystems and geography do. The civilizations in this area went trough considerable expansion and contraction like the seasons, rivers and lakes. The expansion of Islamic religion and the Arab slave trade was the cause of much upheaval. Many people living in the arid steppe, such as the Bamana, Mossi, Songhai, Bobo and Dogon were near the area or were apart of the Three Famous Niger Civilizations. The older Akan speaking people and Baga people, living in the Western Savannah, were in the arid steppe region at the beginning and /or height of Niger Civilizations. They later moved south to the Dry Forest.
In the Arid Steppe grains suchas millet, maize and rice were grown. Farmers used a hoe cultivating the land inside a grid. Much of the wealth in this region was acquired through trade. Salt came from East Africa, gold and timber came from the south. CLC
WESTERN SAVANNAH & DRY-RAINFOREST