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ARTH304: African Art

Unit 7: Eastern and Southern Africa   Swahili is an indigenous East African language and culture that has been influenced by several centuries of trade with and hegemonic infiltration by Indian and Arab Islamic culture, as seen in the region’s architecture. Note that other indigenous groups with strong ethnic identities extending west from the coast remain in the region. However, this course’s discussion of these groups is limited due to a lack of accessible examples. Note that South Africa was the last African country to maintain legal apartheid (overturned in 1994) and retain white European rule from the early colonial era. These influences took a toll on the livelihood of traditional arts crafted by the region’s people. As a result, we will focus on this area’s early art, with a few limited examples of more recent objects.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately you 15 hours to complete:

☐    Subunit 7.1: 7.5 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2: 7.5 hours

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - analyze the syncretistic aesthetic of Swahili culture; - discuss the culture of the Maasai; - discuss the architectural remains at Great Zimbabwe; and - articulate several traditions of beadwork in among various groups in Africa.

7.1 Eastern Africa   - Reading: Public Broadcasting Service: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Wonders of the African World: “The Swahili Coast”

Link: Public Broadcasting Service: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s *Wonders
of the African World*: [“The Swahili
Coast”](http://www.pbs.org/wonders/Episodes/Epi2/swahi.htm) (HTML)


 Instructions: Read each of the four articles under the “Focus
on...” heading.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: ArchNet Digital Library: “Great Mosque at Kilwa” Link: ArchNet Digital Library: “Great Mosque at Kilwa” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read through this webpage and explore the accompanying images of these historical Swahili buildings.

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

  • Reading: Archnet Digital Library: “Old Dispensary Restoration” Link: Archnet Digital Library: “Old Dispensary Restoration” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read through this webpage and explore the accompanying images of these historical Swahili buildings.

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

  • Reading: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, World Heritage Convention: “Lamu Old Town” Link: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, World Heritage Convention: “Lamu Old Town” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read through this webpage to learn about the history of Lamu. Be sure to explore the accompanying images in the gallery.

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  • Reading: Lamu Island Property: “Traditional Swahili Architecture” Link: Lamu Island Property: “Traditional Swahili Architecture” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this material about traditional Swahili domestic architecture: the jumba, or large house.

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  • Reading: The British Museum: “Burnished Pots” Link: The British Museum: “Burnished Pots” (HTML)

    Instructions: Explore this example of free-form pottery from Uganda. Please note that there is a lot of political, economic, and social upheaval – often accompanied by widespread violence – in the modern nations of Uganda, Rwanda, and neighboring areas. The cultures of the Nuba and Dinka that are known in the West for their traditions of body painting and live in southern Sudan have been threatened by decades of conflict between religious and ethnic factions.

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  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Alexander Ives Bortolot’s “Kingdoms of Madagascar: Maroserana and Merina” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Alexander Ives Bortolot’s “Kingdoms of Madagascar: Maroserana and Merina” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage and explore the accompanying images.

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  • Reading: Seattle Museum of Art: “Maasai” Link: Seattle Museum of Art: “Maasai” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click “Close Up Artwork” to view the entry and listen to the accompanying audio on this Maasai beaded collar. Then return to the main page and click two or three other images to view Maasai adornments.
     
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  • Reading: National Geographic: “Taking on the Maasai”

    Link: National Geographic: “Taking on the Maasai” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Explore these photos of Maasai warrior training to get an idea of the kind of adornments typical of the Maasai tradition. You may also explore the “Video” tab to view the warriors return from training and greet the village elders.
     
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  • Web Media: YouTube: Marc Szeglat’s “Masai Traditional Dances” Link: YouTube: Marc Szeglat’s “Masai Traditional Dances” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this video of a unique Maasai performance.

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7.2 Southern Africa   - Reading: The Bradshaw Foundation: Rock Art Research Institute Link: The Bradshaw Foundation: Rock Art Research Institute (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this introduction to the Rock Art Research
Institute for an excellent overview of rock art in South Africa.  

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displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: PBS: “Drakensberg: Barrier of Spears – San Rock Art of the Drakensberg” (HTML) Link: PBS: “Drakensberg: Barrier of Spears – San Rock Art of the Drakensberg” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article about a major rock site in South Africa. Explore each of the pages to study how the rock images are used in shamanistic practices.

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  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Lydenburg Heads”

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

    Instructions: Read this article about ceramic heads found in the Drakensberg area.

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  • Reading: PBS: Nova: Peter Tyson’s “Mystery of Great Zimbabwe” Link: PBS: Nova: Peter Tyson’s “Mystery of Great Zimbabwe” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this essay for an introduction to the mystery of Great Zimbabwe.

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  • Reading: Antiquity: Shadreck Chirikure and Innocent Pikirayi’s “Inside and Outside the Dry Stone Walls: Revisiting the Material Culture of Great Zimbabwe” Link: Antiquity: Shadreck Chirikure and Innocent Pikirayi’s “Inside and Outside the Dry Stone Walls: Revisiting the Material Culture of Great Zimbabwe” (PDF)

    Instructions: Click on the PDF link and read this article. While the article is technical in places, it gives an excellent idea of the development of this complex building technique and offers hypotheses on how the culture’s elite classes used the site.

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  • Web Media: YouTube: kushking1’s “Great Zimbabwe (Ancient City) Historia Pt 1” Link: YouTube: kushking1’s “Great Zimbabwe (Ancient City) Historia Pt 1” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this video, which takes you to the site of the Great Zimbabwe complex. Also note the misconceptions regarding the site and how misidentifications were corrected.

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  • Reading: The British Museum: “Carved Wooden Headrest” Link: The British Museum: “Carved Wooden Headrest” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read about this example of an important object type in the region.

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  • Reading: University of Iowa’s Life in Africa: “Zulu” Link: University of Iowa’s Life in Africa: “Zulu” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this brief overview of the Zulu people.

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  • Reading: Galerie Peter Herrmann: “Republic of South Africa: Beadwork of the Ndebele, Zulu, and Tsonga” Link: Galerie Peter Herrmann: “Republic of South Africa: Beadwork of the Ndebele, Zulu, and Tsonga” (HTML)

    Instructions: Explore these examples of beadwork in the region, which are now a source of industry as well as tradition.

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  • Reading: The National Museum of African Art: “Migration of Beadmaking and Beadwork Throughout Africa” Link: The National Museum of African Art: “Migration of Beadmaking and Beadwork Throughout Africa” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Explore each of the links on this webpage. 
     
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