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Bamum  

Claude Tardits

[Bamoum; Bamoun]

Kingdom and Benue–Congo-speaking people, numbering c. 100,000, living in the south-eastern part of Cameroon’s North-West Province. Foumban, the capital of the kingdom, in particular, is famous for its rich artistic traditions, especially in architecture and associated sculpture and furniture. Collections of Bamum art are held by many museums in Europe and the USA (e.g. Berlin, Mus. Vlkerknd.; Paris, Mus. Homme; Chicago, IL, Field Mus. Nat. Hist.), and there is an important collection in the Musée des Arts et Traditions Bamoun, Foumban, Cameroon. Bamum art has been widely illustrated (see bibliography), and a number of photographs of material in situ in the early 1900s have been published (see especially 1988 exh. cat.).

Having emigrated from the Tikar region in present-day Cameroon, the Bamum established a tiny kingdom on the plateau between the Mbam and Noun Rivers during the 17th century. They brought with them ancient techniques and art forms, including wood-carving, the engraving of ivory and buffalo horns, ceramics, and probably also the lost-wax casting of copper alloys, leather-tanning, and weaving of cotton cloth. These traditions were enriched in their new location and again at the beginning of the 19th century, when they expanded their territory twenty-fold through the subjugation of dozens of other peoples. The Bamum took over the institutions of the conquered peoples, adopted their architectural forms, elaborated their sculptural forms, improved their lost-wax casting technique, and adopted the use of glass beads to decorate cloth. Already practising various forms of graphic art on wood and horn, they began to apply these to textiles and other media, and even to a pictographic system of writing developed during the reign of ...

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Bangwa  

Robert Brain

[Mbangwé ; Mba Nwẽ]

Group of nine independent chiefdoms located in the region of convergence between the forest and savannah grassfields of western Cameroon, with a total population of some 20,000; the largest chiefdom is Fontem. Bangwa art forms include statues, fetishes, masks, and stools (see Brain and Pollock for illustrations of numerous examples); a representative collection is held by the Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin (see Krieger and Kutscher, Krieger).

The Bangwa are linguistically and culturally related to their eastern neighbours, the Bamileke and related peoples, from whom they were administratively separated only by the accidents of European colonial history. However, while their culture is basically Bamileke, the Bangwa have been sensitive to trading opportunities with, and receptive to ideas from, their other neighbours, particularly those of the forest, such as the Ejagham. A striking feature of the art of the area is the mobility of both art objects and their producers; sculptures, masks, and artists being traded between chiefdoms. It is thus difficult to establish distinct art styles or substyles....

Article

Gordon Campbell

Unwoven cloth made from the bast (inner bark) of a tree. It is also known as ‘tapa’, with reference to the Polynesian bark cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry and used for clothing. There is a huge collection of Polynesian bark cloth in the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. In sub-Saharan Africa bark cloth was traditionally decorated with free-hand painting applied with grass brushes, and was used for room-dividers and screens as well as clothing. Its widest application was in Japan, where bark cloth was used for windows, screens, kites, flags and umbrellas.

L. Terrell and J. Terrell: Patterns of Paradise: The Styles of Bark Cloth around the World (Chicago, 1980)M. J. Pritchard: Siapo: Bark Cloth Art of Samoa...

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Linda Mowat

Artefacts of more or less rigid construction produced by the interlacing of linear materials. Basketwork is of considerable antiquity (dating from at least 8000 bc in Egypt and Peru) and in one form or other has been practised almost everywhere in the world.

Basketry materials vary according to the environment of the basketmaker: the wood, bark, roots, shoots, stems, leaves and fibre of hundreds of trees and plants can be used. With few exceptions, these materials take time to find, select, gather and prepare. Many require pounding, stripping, splitting, gauging, drying, dyeing, bleaching or soaking before they can be used. The acquisition and preparation of materials often takes longer than the actual making of the basket.

Many of the baskets of northern and western Europe are made from rods of osier or basket willow. In North America splint baskets are made from split ash, oak, maple and hickory in the east; ...

Article

Esmé Berman

(Whall)

(b Somerset East, Cape Province, Jan 6, 1906; d Port Shepstone, nr Durban, Aug 20, 1982).

South African painter and printmaker. He trained as an art teacher in Johannesburg (1929–32), and his long career culminated in his appointment to the Chair of Fine Arts at the University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria (1964–71). In the 1930s he was among the first to recognize the aesthetic value of southern African rock art, proclaiming his empathy in several books; he replaced his own former realist style with motifs derived from ancient petroglyphs and paintings, as in Quagga Race (610×760 mm, 1948; priv. col., see Berman).

The influence of European modernists from 1938 confirmed Battiss’s commitment to forms of primitive art but also led him closer to abstraction and gave rise to the bright palette that became his hallmark. Subsequent travels broadened his acquaintance with early cultures. Increasingly convinced that ‘calligraphic symbols are a universal language’, he began to incorporate rhythmical calligraphic figurations into compositions such as ...

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Baule  

Philip L. Ravenhill

Akan-speaking peoples, numbering approximately 1,500,000, living mainly in the savanna region between the Bandama and N’zi rivers (the so-called ‘Baule V’) in central Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa. Since 1940, however, there has been significant migration to the southern, forested part of the country in search of land more productive for coffee and cocoa planting. The Baule are bounded to the north by various Senufo and Malinke groups, to the west by different Southern Mande groups (Wan, Guro, Gban, and Yaure) and a Kru group (the Dida), and to the east and south-east by other Akan groups (Ano, Anyi, Abe, and Abiji). In the past the Baule were subsistence farmers and hunters, and artists and artisans practised their crafts in their spare time. They are best known for their anthropomorphic figure sculpture and their masking traditions.

Although Baule art is perceived and shall be discussed here as a separate and distinct style, specific categories of Baule art are historically and stylistically close to the art forms of their neighbours: figurative art and face masks are linked to the art of Southern Mande groups; helmet masks to those of the Southern Mande, Malinke, and Senufo; the art of gold, whether cast or applied as foil to carved wooden objects, to the art of the Akan, notably the Asante; and textile arts to the Southern and Northern Mande....

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Bawit  

C. Walters

Site on the west bank of the River Nile, c. 16 km west of Daryūt in the province of Asyūt, Egypt. A large monastery with rich sculptural and painted decoration originally lay in the desert 1 km to the west. According to tradition it was founded by the monk Apollo in the late 4th century ad and was inhabited until the late 12th century. The site was excavated intermittently between 1901 and 1913 by the French Archaeological Institute in Cairo; most of the structural finds were removed to the Coptic Museum in Cairo and the Louvre in Paris. The monastery consisted of an enclosed nucleus with other buildings outside the walls, although it is not known how much of the site was occupied at any given time. Within the enclosed area were two churches. A number of two-storey structures were excavated, of which the ground floors were probably chapels and the upper floors served as living quarters, as in the monastery of Apa Jeremiah at Saqqara (...

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Baya  

[Mahiedinne, Baya]

(b Borj al-Kiffan, Dec 1931; d Blida, Nov 11, 1998).

Algerian painter. Orphaned at the age of five, she was adopted by a French family who took her to Algiers in 1943. She taught herself to paint, and in 1947 her work, recommended by André Breton, was exhibited at the Galerie Maeght in Paris. In 1949, living at Vallauris in France, she worked on sculptures and pottery, which were exhibited in 1950 at the Maison de l’Artisanat in Algiers; in the same year she married and moved to Blida. While raising a family she stopped painting but resumed in 1963, when she had an exhibition of her early work in Algiers. The following year she participated with other Algerian painters in an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. In 1966 she had a solo exhibition at the Galerie Pilote in Algiers and thereafter exhibited regularly in Algiers, as well as in Casablanca, Brussels, Marseille and Paris. The distinctive style of her early paintings, such as ...

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Çigdem Kafesçioglu and Walter B. Denny

In 

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Bazaar  

Mohammad Gharipour

Bazaar, which is rooted in Middle Persian wāzār and Armenian vačaṟ, has acquired three different meanings: the market as a whole, a market day, and the marketplace. The bazaar as a place is an assemblage of workshops and stores where various goods and services are offered.

Primitive forms of shops and trade centres existed in early civilizations in the Near East, such as Sialk, Tepe in Kashan, Çatal Hüyük, Jerico, and Susa. After the 4th millennium BC, the population grew and villages gradually joined together to shape new cities, resulting in trade even with the remote areas as well as the acceleration of the population in towns. The advancement of trade and accumulation of wealth necessitated the creation of trade centres. Trade, and consequently marketplaces, worked as the main driving force in connecting separate civilizations, while fostering a division of labour, the diffusion of technological innovations, methods of intercultural communication, political and economic management, and techniques of farming and industrial production....

Article

Italo Zannier

British photographers of Italian origin. Antonio Beato (b ?the Veneto, c. 1830; d Luxor, 1903) and his brother Felice [Felix] Beato (b ?the Veneto, c. 1830; d Mandalay, after 1904) were for many years thought to be one person with two names, Antonio and Felice, and only recently has the mystery been solved of the almost contemporaneous presence of a Beato in two different (and often very distant) places. The misunderstanding arose from the fact that both their names (Antonio Felice Beato) appear on several photographs. A closer inquiry brought to light a letter written by Antonio and published in the French paper, Moniteur de la photographie (1 June 1886), in which he explains that he is not the producer of the exotic photographs recently exhibited in London, mention of which had been made in the Moniteur of 10 March; the photographer was instead ‘[his] brother Monsieur Felice Beato of Japan’....

Article

Robert S. Bianchi

[Arab. Bahbayt al-Hagar; anc. Egyp. Pr-ḥbyt; Lat. Iseum]

Site in northern Egypt, c. 100 km north of Cairo, an important cult centre for the worship of the goddess Isis, which flourished during the 4th century bc. The modern name is a combination of the ancient Egyptian name and the Arabic epithet ‘al-hagar’ (‘the stone’), referring to the jumbled mass of granite blocks from the collapsed Temple of Isis that now litters the site. The site is mentioned in inscriptions of the New Kingdom, but it rose to prominence during the 30th Dynasty (380–343 bc) when Nectanebo II (reg 360–343 bc) sponsored the construction of the Temple of Isis. The geographic proximity of Behbeit el-Hagar to Sebennytos, the capital during the 30th Dynasty, less than 10 km away, implies that Isis was the Dynasty’s titular deity. Behbeit el-Hagar (Iseum) eventually became the capital of an independent nome (administrative province) during the Ptolemaic period (after ...

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Bek  

R. Krauss

[Bak]

(fl c. 1340 bc). Egyptian sculptor. Bek’s career as Overseer of Works at the Red Mountain and Overseer of Sculptors coincided with the reign of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc). Numerous fragments of statuary excavated at el-Amarna (the site of Akhenaten’s capital city) can be attributed to Bek’s workshop, making him—like his contemporary Thutmose—one of the few ancient Egyptian artists with whom particular pieces can be associated.

A rock relief at Aswan depicts Akhenaten as a living person, if larger than life, together with the sculptor and his father Men (also an Overseer of Sculptors), in the act of adoring a colossal statue of Amenophis III (reg c. 1390–c. 1353 bc). While Men too adores the statue, Bek greets King Akhenaten. The associated text assigns Bek responsibility for ‘very great monuments’ in the ‘Great Sun Temple’ at el-Amarna. It also describes him as an ‘apprentice whom his majesty himself taught’, a phrase that is often taken to imply the direct, personal involvement of Akhenaten in the formulation of the so-called ...

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Bela  

Jean-Pierre Ibio

(b Fort Archambault c. 1917; d Brazzaville, c. 1968).

Chad painter, active in the Republic of Congo. He worked as a cook and caretaker for Pierre Romain-Desfossés in Chad, and followed him when he moved near Brazzaville in the mid-1940s. There he spent the mornings cooking and began to paint in the afternoons at the studio founded by Romain-Desfossés. He painted with his fingers, not a paintbrush, though at the end of his life he experimented with brushes. Using his fingers gave the images a highly textured feel and impressionistic look, as seen in Oiseaux blancs (1955; Tervuren, Kon. Mus. Mid-Afrika). He depicted all variety of life: human events, aquatic scenes and animals, often in hunting scenes. Initiations and lively nocturnal dances were among his most frequent subjects, the power and mystery of them emphasized by his masterful sense of colour. His palette is bright, and primary colours predominate; his figures are usually in profile, and surfaces are normally filled....

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W. Ali

[Bilkahīyya, Farīd]

(b Marrakesh, Nov 15, 1934).

Moroccan painter. He began painting at the age of 15, and from 1954 to 1959 attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied the work of Georges Rouault and Paul Klee. He was then sent on a scholarship to study theatrical design in Czechoslovakia. Upon his return to Morocco in 1962, he was appointed director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca (1962–74), where he introduced classes in the principles of Arabic calligraphy, which he believed could be utilized in modern painting. In 1964 Belkahia and the artists Mohammed Melehi and Mohamed Chebaa (b 1935) formed what became known as the ‘Casablanca Group’. They replaced models of Greek statues and still-life paintings at the Ecole with reproductions of Moroccan handicrafts, and taught their students to draw geometric forms and design jewellery and carpets. Their aim was to close the gap between craft and art, and break away from imported academic teachings and the naive painting tradition of the past. In his own work, Belkahia began to use such materials as beaten brass, leather, henna, saffron and natural dyes. He developed a distinct style, producing paintings on hand-stretched leather that incorporated popular signs and motifs, numbers, Arabic calligraphy and characters taken from Berber script. In his later work he turned to erotic themes while using this style and medium (e.g. untitled, henna on wood and leather, ...

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David Cast

(b Durban, Transvaal, Nov 21, 1910; d Newark-on-Trent, Notts, Aug 9, 1943).

British painter of South African birth. He studied at Durban School of Art and after showing his work in 1930 earned enough money to travel to London, arriving there in 1931. Some years of poverty followed, and in 1935, a year after participating in an exhibition of paintings based on abstraction from nature (see Objective Abstraction), he gave up painting and became a journalist. He returned to painting, however, after the establishment in 1937 of the Euston Road School in London by William Coldstream, whom he had met in 1934, finding in the ideas and practices of its artists a way to accommodate both his social concerns and his admiration of a tradition of painting derived from Cézanne.

In the first paintings he produced in England Bell explored the lyrical possibilities of the paintings of Duncan Grant, but after meeting Coldstream he sharpened the social focus of his work and painted in a more formally disciplined manner. This way of working is evident in his best pictures, such as ...