1-4 of 4 Results  for:

  • Vernacular and Folk Art x
Clear all

Article

Marla C. Berns and Margret Carey

One of the most essential domestic items is the knife, which may be used for such diverse tasks as skinning animals, cutting meat or fish, peeling root vegetables, splitting reeds or cutting bark tie when making baskets, shaping wood, trimming fingernails or shaving the head. Generally, knives belong to the individual rather than the task. Forks feature little in African culture, other than as tourist commodities, but spoons are significant and are made in a wide range of forms and materials. The most important are those used for serving food, which have large bowls and are sometimes elaborate. The Dan people of Liberia, for example, have special rice spoons with a large bowl, sometimes decoratively carved at the back, and with the handle often carved in human or animal form. Such spoons are used by women in lavish hospitality at times of festival and help celebrate women’s social role. They are often the work of a master carver and are inherited. Many have decoratively carved handles or bowls, as they may be used for ritual feeding of respected elders, for making offerings to the spirits or for serving food on special occasions. The ...

Article

David Binkley and Simon Ottenberg

The term ‘mask’ refers primarily to the object that is worn to hide the face of the masker. The term ‘masquerade’, however, refers to the multimedia activity of transforming a human being into a powerfully animated characterization. While much art-historical research has focused on the mask object itself, the African art form of masquerade comprises an entire ensemble of costume, dance, music and song. Indeed, masquerade is one of Africa’s major contributions to world art; it is certainly the most spectacular. Further information on African mask and masquerade will be found in the entries on the arts of individual peoples, cross-references to several of which appear in the article below.

Mask forms have often been reproduced in other media. They have sometimes been adapted as architectural ornamentation or reproduced in miniature for personal adornment, as for example among the Pende of Zaïre (see Pende, §2). There are several traditions of miniature masks, which are not worn over the face or head but simply displayed as symbols of status and achievement. Among the ...

Article

Margret Carey

Tobacco was introduced into Africa from America by Europeans in the 15th century, while hemp, often called dagga, may have entered Africa from the east and north, via Arab contacts. In much of Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the east and south, the preferred form of tobacco was snuff, made from dried, ground tobacco leaves, which in the late 20th century continued to be taken by both sexes. Snuff-boxes belonging to chiefs or important men might be distinguished by their size, superior workmanship or use of some exclusive material, such as elephant ivory. The great majority of snuff-boxes, however, are quite small and are portable as neck or waist pendants or, if they are made from a length of reed or wood, worn as an ear-plug. Small gourds are often used, either left plain or decorated in a variety of ways, such as pyrogravure, impressed beads or wire and beaded covers; and short lengths of cane or bamboo used to keep snuff may also be decorated by pyrogravure, shallow carving and beaded covers. In ...

Article

Pierre de Maret

Pierre de Maret

The oldest known tools in the world are the African flaked cobbles and stone flakes from c. 2.5 million years bc. From this time stone artefacts gradually became more elaborate. Acheulian tools, mainly hand axes, from c. 1.5 million years bc represent a remarkable intellectual achievement: the equilibrium of the shapes, the fine workmanship and the choice of the raw materials combine a functional approach with some concern for aesthetics. Later, polished tools, such as one made of haematite from Uele in Zaïre (see Van Noten), showed outstanding craftsmanship. Such materials as wood, vegetable and animal fibres, ivory, leaves, bones, horns, leather, eggshells, snail shells, seashells, gourds, clay and metal have also all been in use for millennia. In some places specific tools were developed to work these materials, which were used in turn to create numerous other implements, mainly for cultivating, hunting, fishing, animal husbandry, cooking and drinking. The number of tools owned by any given family, however, was quite small, with basic objects such as a knife, hoe or axe serving several purposes....