Visit Website The first examples of literature written by African-American women appeared aroundas part of a general renaissance of black literature in the s. The book described the sexual exploitation that all too often added to the oppression of slavery for black women; it also provided an early example of black female strength in the face of adversity. The Civil War era spawned some memorable autobiographical works by African-American women, such as the diaries of Charlotte Forten, the daughter of a Philadelphia civil rights activist.
Product of Ancient Civilizations and Centuries of Artistic Traditions Unlike the art of Western societies, traditional African art was a functional and necessary part of everyday life and it would be impossible to understand African culture without an understanding of their art.
The figures or masks were the vehicles through which these spirits made themselves seen and their presence known. Sculpture also served to symbolize authority and played important roles in maintaining social control.
African sculpture is new and unfamiliar to most Americans and yet it is the product of ancient civilizations and many centuries of artistic tradition. Initially the masks and figures may seem strange or even grotesque, but when viewed in terms of their own cultures the sculptures of Africa can be seen to be sophisticated, powerful and dynamic.
African Art Part of Everyday Life Unlike the art of Western societies, traditional African art was a functional and necessary part of everyday life and it would be impossible to understand African cultures without an understanding of their art.
Religion, government, education, work and entertainment were all closely inter-related in traditional African societies. All of the arts, whether musical, oral or sculptural, were deeply woven into the very fabric of social life and played a central role in binding together all members of the community through corporate activity.
Religious Rituals Sculpture figured prominently in the religious rituals which were a central force in African life giving social cohesion through common belief and participation in ceremonial life. The masks and figures used in such rites were not worshipped, however.
Rather it was believed that the world was inhabited by many unseen spirits, each with its own powers and personality. These spirits involved themselves in the lives of human beings in a great many ways for both good and evil.
The figures or masks were the vehicles through which these spirits made themselves seen and their presence known in the world of men. The objects themselves, however, did not embody or contain the spirit and hence, though respected and honored, they were not worshipped.
Authority and Social Control Masks representing spirit forces were particularly important at ceremonies marking the major changes in the lives of individuals or community events such as initiations into adulthood or funeral ceremonies. At the funerals the masks not only paid final respect to the deceased but also guaranteed safe passage into the world beyond.
Figurative staffs were sometimes carried by representatives of chiefs and kings, symbolizing their power and authority. Often they spoke for him and represented him through visual proverbs as having the power, strength and courage of such creatures as a leopard, water buffalo or elephant.
Sometimes it was deemed advisable to call upon the spirits to settle disputes too intractable to be settled by normal temporal authorities. In such cases the spirits were thought to make themselves known through the masks, and the decisions announced by the masks were accepted as having the weight of spiritual authority.
Masks also maintained social control in more subtle ways. Often masks served as teaching aids, augmenting the authority of the teacher himself and by symbolizing the ideas or values he wished to teach. While masks were always treated seriously, their appearance itself might be accompanied by great merriment, and humor was often built into their teaching roles.
Thus, chiefs and elders might be criticized for pompousness or abuse of authority through seemingly comic ridicule and caricature by a mask. In a similar vein a mask might deliberately act in ways not normally tolerated in the society in order to teach by negative example.
In this sense even what might appear to be pure entertainment often had a more serious purpose. A Symbolic Art Utilitarian objects such as weaving pulleys, bowls, stools, chairs and textiles were also made with great care to beautify daily life as well as to enhance the status of chiefs and prominent persons.
In each case the particular culture created its own set of symbols and artistic style which were understood in the community. Though the symbols varied widely between one community and the next, there was generally within a given community a considerable degree of consistency and thus developed a large number of reasonably discreet styles.
Though the artists did not follow stylistic guidelines blindly and each added his own creativity and individuality to the objects he made, the artists generally worked within defined parameters of acceptability within the culture.
Perhaps because African masks were carved to be worn in performance and most figurative sculpture is also designed for ritual use, African art is principally symbolic rather than representational. It is more concerned with visualizing concepts rather than with accurately representing nature. Sculpture is often highly stylized with conventional female beauty shown to convey ideas of serenity or fertility; bold powerful shapes, such as the horns of animals to symbolize strength and virility; and frightening, expressionistic visages to inspire awe and fear for the enforcement of social custom.
Similarly the artist often deliberately distorted proportions in order to emphasize those elements he wished to show as important. In most African sculpture, for example, the head, seat of wisdom and personality, is usually enlarged so that it accounts for about one-fourth to one-third of the total height of a human figure instead of the one to seven ratio that it is in nature.
In contrast, the hands and feet are generally regarded as unimportant and hence show little detail or attention. Decorative scarification, hair styles, etc. Portraits pay great attention to accurately capturing these features so that figures may immediately be identified with the person they represent.
People are also invariably represented in the prime of life, full of vigor, for to show an individual young and dependent or old and infirm would be insulting.The play with its imaginative pseudodocumentary style and use of militant song and dance (reminiscent of the subversive use of those elements in the struggle for independence) is one of the major political works of the modern African theatre.
African art, the visual arts of native Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, including such media as sculpture, painting, pottery, rock art, textiles, masks, personal decoration, and jewelry.. For more general explorations of media, see individual media articles (e.g., painting, sculpture, pottery, and textile).For a discussion of the characteristics, .
In Africa, music plays an important part in the way people interact, celebrate and relay historic events! Music is a form of communication and it plays a functional role in African society. Songs accopany marriage, birth, rites of .
Examine the role of women in African society as represented in traditional artwork and post-colonial literature. Additional representations of women in traditional African art, which echo many describe her major works, usually offer a brief excerpt, and provide links to other Internet resources.
Religion in Africa is multifaceted and has been a major influence on art, culture and philosophy. Today, the continent's various populations and individuals are mostly adherents of Christianity, Islam, and to a lesser extent several Traditional African .
Although our increased knowledge of African societies means that social and aesthetic functions are now assigned to many works of art previously considered as items for religious use only, much African art essentially has a religious and symbolic role. African art describes the modern and historical paintings, sculptures, installations, and other visual culture from native or indigenous Africans and the African continent. The definition may also include the art of the native African, African diasporas, such as African American, Caribbean and other American art. African art plays a major role in the African society. Their fine art is a significant part of African culture and history of the world. Their art influences other artists in the civilization to create their own art as a way to express their stories and traditions.
African art history. African art history has played a significant role in shaping the culture and history of the world. The belief that Africa is the cradle of the history of mankind is virtually unshakeable.
The origins of African art history lie long before recorded history, preserved in the obscurity of time.