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ARTH304: African Art

Unit 6: Central Africa   A number of groups reside across the boundaries of modern eastern Nigeria and Cameroon along the Cross River. In Cameroon, several ethnically and culturally related kingship societies nonetheless are distinct by tradition. In the colonial period, the Congo region encompassed the modern nations of the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Kongo peoples (including several sub-groups) extend across the borders of these nations. This background is important to keep in mind when trying to categorize the works of the various groups this unit examines because there are not always clear differences in style or type, and there is much interaction between the two groups.

Unit 6 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately you 15 hours to complete:

☐    Subunit 6.1: 7 hours

☐    Subunit 6.2: 8 hours

Unit6 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - discuss the colonial and modern geography of Central Africa; - discuss, compare, and contrast the ethnic groups in Central Africa; - identify several indigenous groups inhabiting modern Cameroon; - analyze the basic form and function of votive and masquerade forms in the Eastern Nigeria, Cameroon and Congo regions; - discuss the diversity of votive and masquerade forms throughout Africa; - articulate the idea of personal prestige objects (such as stools); and - analyze the several approaches to exhibitions of African art in Western museums;

6.1 Cameroon and Gabon   - Web Media: YouTube: Cleveland Museum of Art’s “Ejagham” Link: YouTube: Cleveland Museum of Art’s “Ejagham” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Watch this short video on the Ejagham. Note that the
Ejagham (or Ekoi) are among the small groups along the Cross River,
extending from Nigeria into Cameroon. This group has a symbolic
writing system known as *nsibidi*.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: Cleveland Museum of Art: “African Mask Interactive” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Ejagham Headdress” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Ejagham Headdress” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage about the skin mask style of the Ejagham.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Musée du Quai Branly: “Arts from Central Africa” Link: Musée du Quai Branly: “Arts from Central Africa” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage, which addresses the overlap of mask styles and votive types in the region.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: University of California at Los Angeles, Fowler Museum: “Intersections: Pageantry in the Palace – Bamum Kingdom, Cameroon” Link: University of California at Los Angeles, Fowler Museum: “Intersections: Pageantry in the Palace –  Bamum Kingdom, Cameroon” (Flash)

    Instructions: Watch this brief video for insight into the continuity of the Bamum culture.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Wikimedia: “Njoya and His Father’s Throne” Link: Wikimedia: “Njoya and His Father’s Throne” (HTML)

    Instructions: View this image of a Bamum beaded throne.

    Terms of Use: This resource is in the public domain.

  • Reading: Wikimedia: “Trone Bamum-Musee ethnologique de Berlin” Link: Wikimedia: “Trone Bamum-Musee ethnologique de Berlin” (HTML)

    Instructions: View this image of a Bamum beaded throne.

    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Wikimedia, and the original version can be found here.

  • Reading: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: “Beaded Throne, Bamileke” Link: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: “Beaded Throne, Bamileke” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this article and enlarge the entry for a closer look. Note that this object has been restored. In fact, issues of how African works have been transported and have ended up in various museums are specialized discourses and areas of research within the art history field. 
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: YouTube: Cleveland Museum of Art: “African Leopard Caryatid Stool” Link: YouTube: Cleveland Museum of Art: “African Leopard Caryatid Stool” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this video to hear a curator talk about the provenance, material, and meaning of this object.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Arts & Societies: Benoit de L’Estoile’s “Appropriation and Reappropriation of Exotic Artifacts” Link: Arts & Societies: Benoit de L’Estoile’s “Appropriation and Reappropriation of Exotic Artifacts” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this article, which broaches the appropriation and re-appropriation of a dynastic throne, now located in a Berlin museum. 
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Bangwa Figure” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Bangwa Figure” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this entry on a Bangwa votive sculpture, noting the symbols incorporated into its design that represent kingship.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: For African Art: “Bamileke” Link: For African Art: “Bamileke” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article for a brief historical account of the Bamileke group and the type of art objects they produce.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Dayton Art Institute: “Bamileke (Kuosi Costume)” Link: The Dayton Art Institute: “Bamileke (Kuosi Costume)” (HTML)

    Instructions: View and read the description of this costume, which is associated with a royal masquerade.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: National Museum of African Art: “A Personal Journey: Central African Art from the Lawrence Gussman Collection”

    Link: National Museum of African Art: “A Personal Journey: Central African Art from the Lawrence Gussman Collection” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article and each of the pages under the “Menu” button.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Reliquary Figure”

    Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Reliquary Figure” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this brief article to learn more about the importance of ancestral worship amongst the Fang people.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Reliquary Head (Nlo Bieri)” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Reliquary Head (Nlo Bieri)” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article to learn more about the importance of ancestral worship amongst the Fang people, then compare this reliquary figure to the previous reliquary figure.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Art and Life in Africa: “Kota”

    Link: Art and Life in Africa: “Kota” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this brief introduction to the Kota people and their use of reliquary figures, similar to the Fang.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Kota” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Kota” (HTML)

    Instructions: Click on each of the ten images and note the unique Kota style of reliquary design.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.2 The Congo   6.2.1 The Kongo Peoples   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Emma George Ross’ “African Christianity in Kongo” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Emma George Ross’ “African Christianity in Kongo” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read the introduction and then explore the four
images above the main text.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: ArtsConnected: “Nail Figure” Link: ArtsConnected: “Nail Figure” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this detailed description of the Kongo group responsible for the construction of use of the Nkisi object. Take note of how the object is constructed, what types of materials are used, and how it is activated.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: The Brooklyn Museum: “Power Figure (Nkisi Nkondi)” Link: The Brooklyn Museum: “Power Figure (Nkisi Nkondi)” (HTML) 

    Instructions: Please read this webpage for additional information on minkisi (which is plural; the singular is nkisi).

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: Annenberg Foundation: Art Through Time: A Global View: “Power Figure (Nkisi Nkondi)” Link: Annenberg Foundation: Art Through Time: A Global View: “Power Figure (Nkisi Nkondi)” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please read this webpage for additional information on minkisi (which is plural; the singular is nkisi).

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Figure: Mother and Child” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Figure: Mother and Child” (HTML)

    Instructions: View the supplemental images as examples of the variety of objects produced in the Kongo region.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Royal Scepter: Male Figure” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Royal Scepter: Male Figure” (HTML)

    Instructions: View the supplemental images for examples of the variety of objects produced in the Kongo region.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Power Figure (Nkisi)” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Power Figure (Nkisi)” (HTML)

    Instructions: View the supplemental images for examples of the variety of objects produced in the Kongo region.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

6.2.2 The Chokwe   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Seated Chief (Mwanangara)” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Seated Chief (Mwanangara)” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this entry on a Chokwe sculpture in the
collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: “The Makishi Masquerade” Link: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: “The Makishi Masquerade” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this introduction to a Chokwe initiation masquerade. Be sure to explore the “Slideshow” and “Video” tabs on the top of the page.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: ArtsConnected: “Mwana Pwo Mask” Link: ArtsConnected: “Mwana Pwo Mask” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this entry on a Pwo mask, which represents a traditional Chokwe female character in another type of masquerade.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.2.3 The Kuba   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Alexander Ives Bortolot’s “Kingdoms of the Savanna” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Alexander Ives Bortolot’s “Kingdoms of the Savanna” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this introduction to the Kuba and then view the
four images located above the text.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Minneapolis Institute of Arts: “Kuba Yet Belt” Link: Minneapolis Institute of Arts: “Kuba Yet Belt” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this presentation.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Neuberger Museum of Art: “Female Face Mask” Link: Neuberger Museum of Art: “Female Face Mask” (HTML)

    Instructions: Explore these examples of prominent character masks in a traditional royal masquerade of the Kuba.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: Brooklyn Museum: “Bwoom Mask” Link: Brooklyn Museum: “Bwoom Mask” (HTML)

    Instructions: Explore these examples of prominent character masks in a traditional royal masquerade of the Kuba.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: Brooklyn Museum: “Mwaash aMbogy Mask” Link: Brooklyn Museum: “Mwaash aMbogy Mask” (HTML)

    Instructions: Explore these examples of prominent character masks in a traditional royal masquerade of the Kuba.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

6.2.4 Other Groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo   - Reading: Annenberg Foundation: Art Through Time: A Global View: “Stool (Luba)” Link: Annenberg Foundation: Art Through Time: A Global View: “Stool (Luba)” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this webpage and listen to the “Expert
Perspectives” at the bottom right.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Alexander Ives Bortolot’s “Kingdoms of the Savanna: The Luba and Lunda Empires” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Alexander Ives Bortolot’s “Kingdoms of the Savanna: The Luba and Lunda Empires” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article on the Luba and explore the accompanying images.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Alexander Ives Bortolot’s “Memory Board (Lukasa)” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Alexander Ives Bortolot’s “Memory Board (Lukasa)” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article on the Luba and explore the accompanying images.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: African Art Museum: “Hemba” Link: African Art Museum: “Hemba” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this brief history of the Hemba people and view the images of the works of art produced by the group.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: American Museum of Natural History: “African Reflections: Art from Northeastern Zaire” Link: American Museum of Natural History: “African Reflections: Art from Northeastern Zaire” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article, which gives a detailed history of various objects used in the daily life of the Mangbetu people.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Mangbetu Harp” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Mangbetu Harp” (HTML)

    Instructions: View this example of Mangbetu sculpture. Note that the elongation of the head was a sign of beauty and was practiced by the Mangbetu elite as a form of body modification in the past.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: Emory University, Michael C. Carlos Museum: “Manghetu Female Effigy Vessel” Link: Emory University, Michael C. Carlos Museum: “Manghetu Female Effigy Vessel” (HTML)

    Instructions: View this example of Mangbetu sculpture. Note that the elongation of the head was a sign of beauty and was practiced by the Mangbetu elite as a form of body modification in the past.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.