A650 | 26330 | McNaughton

Problems in African Art

Powerful waves of spectacular art have spread across the savannah
and forest lands of West Africa over the past two thousand years:
beautiful terra cotta sculpture, rich traditions of metal sculpture,
and dramatic and conceptually complex horizontal masks are perhaps
the best known.  But Sudanic-style mosques, strip weaving,
equestrian imagery, bird & antelope headdresses, and oral traditions
of "history and music" may also play into the broader picture.
These art genres have crossed ethnic and cultural boundaries and
spread across up to 3500 miles of territory.  Horizontal masks, for
example are used by over a hundred ethnic groups, across five
language families, and numerous national boundaries.

All these art traditions seem to be associated with grand historical
happenings that include some of the worldıs largest empires and most
sophisticated commerce infrastructures.  Our seminar will explore
these art forms and attempt to understand what cultural dynamics
facilitated their mobility, and what characteristics of their form,
construction, and conceptualization might have made them so