Cover image for African ceremonies
African ceremonies
Beckwith, Carol, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams, 1999.
Physical Description:
2 volumes : color illustrations, color maps ; 36 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GN645 .B4 1999 V.2 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
GN645 .B4 1999 V.1 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

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Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher are acclaimed for their photographs of vanishing African tribal customs. This text brings together a decade of travel and research, in a two-volume exploration of African rites and rituals, including baby namings, initiations and weddings.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Beckwith and Fisher are extraordinary women who have trained their voracious curiosity on African rituals and customs, which has led them to create a number of photographic works, independently and with others. In collaboration, they produced the acclaimed African Ark (1990), and the film based on that book, The Painter and the Fighter; their pursuit of African ceremonies is an even more ambitious project, and the resulting photographs are simply stunning. For 10 years, Beckwith and Fisher traveled in Africa recording rituals, from birth and initiations to death, many of which have disappeared as the hegemony of the West moves indefatigably forward. It is a testament to their ingenuity and dedication that they could establish the intimacy and rapport with their subjects that enabled them to get many of these shots, for example, the initiation rites of Krobo females in Ghana, who are sequestered for three weeks, taught about the expectations of Krobo women, and given a memorable diploma--a delicate tattoo on the back of the hand. The Maasai (Kenya) circumcision rites for young men and women are recorded, with poignant, though not judgmental, images of their pain and dignity. The Vodou festivals on the border of Ghana and Togo are attended by believers who experience unbelievable (to Western eyes) alterations of mind and body. Beckwith and Fisher recently received the Award of Excellence from the United Nations Society of Writers and Artists. A special book that easily belongs in all libraries. --Bonnie Smothers

Publisher's Weekly Review

Beckwith and Fisher, two western photographers (the former American, the latter Australian) fascinated by the rituals of Africa, spent 10 years traveling the continent to document their passion on film for the first edition of this stunning book. In 1999, it was released in a slip-cased, $150, two-volume edition; it featured 850 images of the various namings, initiations, weddings and coronations the women witnessed during their travels, as well as countless other moments of consequence with their generous hosts. Now comes the concise edition, which boasts more than half the original collection assembled in a single, large, full-color book and accompanied by a CD of ceremonial African music by composer David Bradnum. The images are bright, intimate and genuinely exotic, and they speak to a diversity of fascinating and wildly inventive rituals. From the Pedi people's beadwork to the Do-society's shaggy raffia outfits, the images capture a multitude of beautiful costumes on beautiful people, celebrating their life cycles from birth to death. For those interested in the tribal cultures of Africa, this would be a tough volume to miss. Over 400 color photographs (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A spectacular visual record of traditional rituals, this is perhaps the ultimate coffee-table book on African cultures. Renowned photographers Beckwith (Nomads of Niger) and Fisher (Africa Adorned) organize the chapters in the first volume by life-cycle rituals--birth, marriage, and death--an arrangement that doesn't work as well for the second volume, which functions more as a collection of miscellany. Each chapter consists of introductory text and a half-dozen or so photo essays featuring rituals in specific cultures from all regions of Africa. As in the best National Geographic articles, the text is brief, well written, and clearly aimed at a general audience (as are the extensive photo captions). But, unquestionably, it is the excellent color photos that make these volumes valuable to lay reader and scholar alike, especially because many of these rituals may soon disappear from a changing Africa. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.--Eugene C. Burt, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.