Study guide traditional african art modern era

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Complete this guide from reading & class discussions & presentations. Use it to take notes and study for exams, along with your flashcards.

Resources for Additional Research:

Chapter 28 in Volume 2 of text

Class Presentations/Group Work

Powerpoint (Ms. Fuentes, available on class website)

African Art: Aesthetics & Meaning
Kingdom of Benin exhibit; Art Institute of Chicago
Museum for African Art

I. Traditional and Contemporary African Culture (p 918 class discussion)
A. Diversity of African continent

  1. _________ largest continent

  2. Contains rain forests, ___________, and _________

  3. Home to over ________ countries

  4. Over __________ languages grouped into 5 major families

B. Religions in Africa

  1. Before the 19th century, ___________________from the spread through West Africa and along the eastern coast (Libya, Egypt, etc.)

  2. European exploration & colonization in 19th century brought ____________ missionaries to the interior

  1. Traditional African religions persist across political boundaries.

C. Spirit World in Traditional African religious beliefs ( p 925, class disc.)

  1. Role of supreme creator god?______________________

  2. Subordinate spirit forces _____________ in day to day human affairs such as crops & famine, sickness and health.

  3. Role of ancestral spirits____________________________

  4. ________________ serve as a link between spirit & humans

  5. Rituals to communicate with & honor spirits

    1. Prayer

    2. ________________

    3. ________________

    4. ________________

    5. __________________

  1. Baule people use carved figurines to represent spirit ______ from another world. These statuettes are treated __________

  2. _________________________________________

  3. Yoruba people erect shrines to ________ , a mischievous trickster God who represents disorder, uncertainty, and chance.

  4. The Chokwe people and others use nganga and a shallow covered __________ to find the cause of a person’s problems and how to solve them (p. 937)

D. Children and the continuity of life

a. Important in traditional African societies

B. Survival rates for children affected by

A war + malnutrition



c. Celebration of birth

d. Ceremonies for coming of age include




Bwa initiation masks_____________________
e. How dolls relate to role of children in traditional Africa


Example: Yoruba twin figures from Nigeria

Mossi Biiga dolls

E. Living Areas (text p. 919 on)

  • Painted ___________ in West Africa

    • Yidoor means __________________

    • Geometric motifs also used for _____________and ____________ of the skin.

Decorating themselves, homes & possessions = function of art as part of

------------------------------------- IDENTITY
E. Funeral Rituals ( p. 932-)
Death is viewed as a ____________ not an ending.
Dogon hold a collective _________ rite every 12-13 years
Kuba people use ______________ to honor the dead and to admonish spirits.
II. Politics, War, and History of Africa
A. Early Foundations

    1. Ancient _____ founded on the Nile River in 4000 BCE

    2. 8000 BCE – mountain images painted/carved into sides

    3. ___________ culture probably moved South from drying up grassland in 500 BCE

      1. use ________ (metal)

      2. created Terra Cotta sculptures

4. City of Ife (Nigeria) founded in 800 CE (Kingdom of Benin)

B. Kingdom of Benin (book p 921, class presentation)

1. Ife sacred city of the _____________ people

2. Court artists worked in ____________ cast sculptures, 1170 –

3. Elaborate carvings were made in ____________ to tell


4. Yoruba palace art was often made by ______________

1. carved doors and veranda posts

2. Example:______________________________


5. Trade established with __________________ in 1485

(class presentation for following questions)

6. Leopards were used in art to glorify the ___________.

7. The Royal Altar Tusk was carved from ____________ and told

__________________ from ______________________.

8. Oba Esigie influenced the arts by ________________

9. How did Benin art represent the link between human and divinity?

C. European Trade with Coastal Africa 15th – 19th Centuries

  1. Gold, ivory – Portugal

  2. Coastal sub-Saharan Africa in _____ century

  3. _______ million slaves taken from Atlantic coast of Africa to Europe & colonies in the Americas

D. Slavery in Africa

  1. Arab nations took 7000 slaves a year from 10th to 19th centuries to serve as harem guards or servants

  2. Some ethnic groups conquered others in early Africa and forced

the losers to work as servants

III. Masks & Masquerades
A. Bwa Masks of Initiation (book p. 923 +)
-Initiation ritual notes

-Role of pattern______________________

-Masks show spirits taking ___________ forms

-Masks reflect passage to adulthood AND encodes proper _______ _______________.

B. Sowei Masks of Sierra Leone (p 924)

  • Masks represent ideal female beauty with these features

    • _____________________

    • ____________________

    • __________________________

  • Masks used for initiation of _______________________.

C. Bwami Masks of Lega People (p925)

  • Social significance________________________

  • Importance to society

D. Role of Masquerades (book, class presentation)

E. Role of Children in Mask Making and Masquerades (egungun)

F. Masks seen in Context (book, class presentation)

      • Masks often impermanent because parts are made of _________________________________________

      • Masks not made for museum showpieces, but for use in

      • ____________________ such as __________________,

      • ______________________, or ____________________

      • Masks are used in performances, which include other arts such as ______________ and dance, like in the video we saw in class.

      • Masks are part of a full __________________.

G. Types of Masks (from class presentation)

  • Anthromorphic_____________________

  • Composite ________________________

  • Zoologic__________________________

IV. Traditional Textiles:
Textiles are basically considered a _______________ art, while males mainly do wood carving.

A. Kente Cloth (book p. 928+)

    • Used by _____________ people.

    • Renowned for beauty of weaving; originally made of __________ but now more modern fabrics like _____________.

    • Originally worn by ________________, Kente cloth has specific patterns with specific ____________________.

    • Today Kente cloth is worn for occasions such as ___________, ___________________________ or _____________________________.

    • Contemporary artist El ______________ of Ghana creates “cloth” out of aluminum bottle tops, reflecting the textile tradition and conveying a ______________ message

  • B. Adinkra Cloth (class presentation)

    • Made by the ___________ people.

    • Printed with stamps made from ______________; our classmates used ________________.

    • Red, black and brown are associated with ___________ while white cloths are used in post mourning celebrations.

    • The design motifs reprsent _________________________.

    • Ghana is located in _______________ Africa and the Akan speaking people make up half of the population.

    • Proverbs are considered a sign of ___________________.

V. Contemporary Painting
A. Julie Nehretu (end of chapter)

African dias____.

Used mixed _________________

Her piece in the book is entitled __________________.

Used symbols from _______________________________________

B. Congolese Painting

1. _________________________ was a leader (one of the only democratically elected) and became a national hero and a symbol of African ________________from the European rules in the early 20th century.
2. He was ______________________ by his enemies in the early 1960s.
3. In modern and postmodern Congolese painting, he is portrayed as a ___________________ and can be compared to __________________.
4. The Congo/Zaire was a colony of ______________ prior to gaining independence under Lumumba.
5.. Urban paintings in the Congo deal with themes of _____________

VI. Contemporary Shona Sculpture from ______________________

(class presentation)

1. The Zimbabwe Shona sculptures use different _________ in their artworks; some parts are left as rough natural stone, others are smoothly _______________.
2. Unlike traditional African arts, these sculptures are NOT part of ceremonies or ___________________
3. Still reference cultural traditions in their subjects, such as


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