African Art

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Selma Hougeir
Art History- Reflection paper #1
Learning about African arts was very interesting to me. I was born in North Africa and have seen a lot of North African arts, but never really knew much about the sub- Saharan African arts. The most interesting part of African history for me was the history of the Nigerian arts. I could not believe that the earliest known sculptures in Africa were from the 5th century. The remarkable Terra cotta pottery heads were made from fired clay. They came from the Nok culture of Nigeria that date from 500BCE-200BCE. I also found the art and history of Benin to be so amazing and advanced. Benin had a great style of art that was quite different from the other regions in the area. They produced many fine bronze and brass heads, figurines, brass plaques and much more. An interesting part of African art is how it is used to serve specific objectives in each geographic region. Africans believe in a sort of spirit world and their rituals are used for a purpose. The purpose is to connect with the spirit world and the past, which they think will have an impact on the real world and the present. I personally believe an authentic African work of art is one that is crafted by an African artist and is also used in that society’s rituals. The many masks they use to represent beings from other worlds are beautiful and fascinating, but these works of art are incomplete without being put to use. This is what makes African art so interesting and special. The many different countries with their many languages all have varying ideas about what art is beautiful to each tribe. It is also interesting how they have art not only for music and dance, but for ancestor worship, rites of passage, funerals, and many other celebrations or events.

There were several different pieces that stood out to me and had interesting meanings to their unique use or purpose. The Mvuala from central Africa is fascinating. The shape of the head...
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