Small churches in many communities are decorated with brightly colored nativity scenes carved from wood. Swedish folk artists make elaborately carved wooden musical instruments. In northern Canada and Alaska, Inuit make utensils and containers from driftwood. In southwestern Canada, woodland farmers shape wooden bowls, cups, and other vessels.
All over the world, people of the sea spend time carving models of ships. Professional sculptors as well as folk artists had long been attracted to wood's natural beauty. But they preferred to work with more permanent materials, such as marble or metal.
Modern methods of controlling temperature and humidity, along with stains, varnishes, and other types of wood sealants, can now help preserve all kinds of woodwork almost indefinitely. These developments have spurred a renewed interest in wood carving. Check this box to send yourself a copy of the email. Scholastic respects your privacy. Geographically, the demarcation line is the southern edge of the Sahara Desert.
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Due to the diversity of cultures in sub-Saharan Africa, what African art is, is a question with a longer answer. We can identify some common traits of much of the art of sub-Saharan Africa. These traits are: the human image is a favored subject, intense use of color, three-dimensional works and sculpture are more popular than paintings, abstraction is preferred over realism, and art makes useful objects more beautiful.
Notice the fine craftsmanship and symbolic decorations on the weapons used for war and the hunt. Brilliant cloth and brightly colored beads identify different tribes and differentiate people by gender, age, and social status. The extensive collection of ritual masks which represent folklore and family have uses ranging from communicating with ancestral spirits to initiation ceremonies and weddings.
Music is a constant presence throughout all aspects of African culture. The art of African music is in the appearance of the instruments, and in the sounds they produce. The Tree of Life carvings illustrate the links between tribal generations, and how those generations connect to the land. For example, in the fifteenth-century Portugal traded with the Sapi culture near the Ivory Coast in West Africa, who created elaborate ivory saltcellars that were hybrids of African and European designs, most notably with the addition of the human figure.
Art of Africa - Blackhawk Museum
African artworks tend to favor visual abstraction over naturalistic representation. This is because many African artworks, regardless of medium, tend to represent objects or ideas rather than depict them. Even the so-called portrait heads of Ile-Ife in modern-day Nigeria , usually thought of as naturalistic representations of rulers, have actually been smoothed and simplified in an effort to abstract and generalize stylistic norms. Ancient Egyptian art, also usually thought of as naturalistically depictive, makes use of highly abstracted and regimented visual traditions, especially in painting, as well as the use of different colors to represent the qualities and characteristics of an individual being depicted.
African artists tend to favor three-dimensional artworks over two-dimensional works. Even many African paintings or cloth works were meant to be experienced three-dimensionally.
House paintings are often seen as a continuous design wrapped around a house, forcing the viewer to walk around the work to experience it fully; while decorated cloths are worn as decorative or ceremonial garments, transforming the wearer into a living sculpture. An extension of the utilitarianism and three-dimensionality of traditional African art is the fact that much of it is crafted for use in performance contexts, rather than in static ones. For example, masks and costumes very often are used in communal, ceremonial contexts, where they are "danced.
In African thought, the three cannot be differentiated. Traditional art describes the most popular and studied forms of African art which are typically found in museum collections. Wooden masks, which might represent either human or animal, are one of the most commonly found forms of art in western Africa. In their original contexts, ceremonial masks are used for celebrations, initiations, crop harvesting, and war preparation.
The masks are worn by a chosen or initiated dancer. During the mask ceremony the dancer often goes into a deep trance, and during this state of mind he "communicates" with his ancestors. The masks can be worn in three different ways: vertically covering the face; as helmets encasing the entire head; and as crests resting upon the head, which was commonly covered by material as part of a disguise.
African masks often represent a spirit, and it was strongly believed that the spirit of the ancestors or the deity possesses the wearer. Most African masks are made with wood, and can be decorated with a number of substances including: ivory , animal hair, plant fibers such as raffia , pigments, stones, and semi-precious gems.
Statues, usually of wood or ivory, are often inlaid with cowrie shells, metal studs, and nails. Decorative clothing is also commonplace and comprises another large part of African art.
Among the most complex of African textiles is the colorful, strip-woven Kente cloth of Ghana. Boldly patterned mudcloth is another well-known example. A complete survey is African art is impossible given the limits of the current article.
The History of Wood Carving in Art
Several regional examples are described here, and more specific information is available at specific country articles. In the northern part of Botswana, tribal women in the villages of Etsha and Gumare are noted for their skill at crafting baskets from Mokola Palm and local dyes. The baskets are generally woven into three types: large lidded baskets used for storage; large open baskets for carrying objects on the head or for winnowing threshed grain; and smaller plates for winnowing pounded grain. The artistry of these baskets is being steadily enhanced through color use and improved designs as they are increasingly produced for commercial use.
The oldest evidence are ancient paintings from both Botswana and South Africa. Depictions of hunting, both animal and human figures, were made by the Khoisan Bushmen dating before civilization over 20, years old within the Kalahari desert. The peoples of the Ivory Coast use masks to represent animals in caricature, to depict deities, or to represent the souls of the departed. As the masks are held to be of great spiritual power, it is considered a taboo for anyone other than specially-trained persons to wear or possess certain masks.
These ceremonial masks each are thought to have a soul, or life force, and wearing these masks is thought to transform the wearer into the entity the mask represents. The Ivory Coast also has modern painters and illustrators.
Related history of traditional african wood carvings
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