Ancient Africa Art History Survey

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Covers highlights in Ancient African art history based on the Stokstad textbook (3rd ed) including Benin, Great Zimbabwe, Igbo Ukwu, and more, along with a brief video on Edward Said's "Orientalism" theory.

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Ancient Africa Art History Survey

  1. 1. Ancient Africa Art History Survey I T, R, 12 -1:20PM Professor Paige Prater
  2. 2. Africa  Trade with Egypt through the Hellenistic period  Greeks traded with northern coast  Romans continued trans-Saharan trade  Islam: 7-8th century CE –  West African gold  Chronicled Ghana, Mali, Songhay, etc.  East Africa: Swahili and trade ports of Mogadishu, Mombasa, and Kilwa  15th century: Portugal establishes trade with Benin  20th century: African art widely collected but misunderstood
  3. 3. Challenges to studying African Art  Wood  Myth of “Primitive” art  Contemporary traditions  Oral histories  Still discovering…  Ocher pigment + perforated shells; 70,000 years ago!
  4. 4. Orientalism = applicable to Africa?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwCOSkXR_Cw
  5. 5. Sahara Rock Art – 8000- 500BCE Cattle Being Tended, section of rock-wall painting, Tassili-n-Ajjer, Algeria, c. 5000-2000 BCE
  6. 6. Nok – 500 BCE- 200CE  Earliest evidence of iron technology (western Sudan, present-day Nigeria)  Terracotta Head, Nok, 500BCE-200CE, 36cm, National Museum, Lagos, Nigeria
  7. 7. Igbo-Ukwu  Eastern Nigeria  Earliest known evidence for copper alloy and bronze casting  Roped Pot on a Stand, Igbo-Ukwu, 9th-10th century, 32.3cm (approx. 12”)
  8. 8. Ife – 800 CE-Present  “navel of the world”  Circular plan metropolis by 11th century; palace at center  Stone walls + moats  Radial roads  1000-1400CE – Pavement Period  “oni” = first ruler
  9. 9. Ife (Yoruba peoples)  800CE  Naturalistic sculpture – 1050CE  Continuous dynasty  Crowned Head of a King, Ife, Yoruba, c. 12th- 15th century CE, Zinc brass, lost-wax method
  10. 10. Ife  Head Said to Represent the Usurper Lajuwa, Ife, Yoruba, c. 1200-1300CE  Preserved in the oni’s palace
  11. 11. Benin  City, 150 miles southeast of Ife  Oral histories: 1170 CE, Prince Oranimiyan sent to rule Benin (by oni of Ife).  1485 – Portugal begins trading with Benin  Ivory, forest products…slaves  1897 – British sacked/burned royal palace after massacre of trade negotiators  Early Period: 1400-1550 (influenced by Ife)  Middle Period: 1550-1700CE (increasingly stylized  Late Period: 1700-1897CE (large/heavy)
  12. 12. Benin  Head= symbolic center of:  Wisdom  Intelligence  Spiritual communication  King-like “Great Head”  Memorial Head of an Oba, Benin, 16th century, brass, 9”
  13. 13. Altar, Edo Culture, Nigeria, 1959. Photo by Eliot Elisofon.
  14. 14. Plaque: Warrior Chief Flanked by Warriors and Attendants, Benin, Nigeria, 1550-1650CE, Brass  One of approximately 900 examples!  1897 Punitive Expedition (British found in storehouse)  http://www.youtube.com/wa tch?v=tmrdunRXfbw
  15. 15. Benin Ivory • Hip Mask • Iyoba (queen mother) • Iron, Ivory, and copper 9 3/8” • Middle Period, c. 1550CE
  16. 16. Jenné (in Mali) – 200 CE - Present  Great Friday Mosque, 13th century (rebuilt 1907)
  17. 17. Great Zimbabwe  Conical Tower in Imba Huru or “Great Enclosure”  18’ diameter on tower  30’ high  800 ft long masonry wall  17’ feet thick base  1200-1400CE
  18. 18. Great Zimbabwe  Bird Monolith (top part)  1200-1400CE, soapstone  Over 5’ tall
  19. 19. Kongo Kingdom  1482 – Portuguese encounter  Early 17th century  9 ½” x 28 ¼”, raffia

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