Cover image for A history of art in Africa
A history of art in Africa
Visonà, Monica Blackmun, 1953-
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams, 2001.
Physical Description:
544 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 29 cm
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N7380 .H54 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

On Order



In this successful and very ambitious volume, the vast topic of African art is usefully surveyed on a region-by-region basis, with the art of each region surveyed chronologically from the earliest known examples to art of our own day. Each chapter comprises, therefore, ancient art, the issue of Christian influence (when applicable), Islamic art, colonial and post-colonial art, with consideration given to the production of art for the tourist trade. The authors (all are art historians of African art at American universities) have produced a readable, impressive volume saturated with the rich history and culture that give meaning to the works of art and architecture they have carefully assembled, all depicted in good reproductions within the text. Annotation copyrighted by Book News Inc., Portland, OR

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The study of African art history has reached another milestone with the publication of this book. For years, we have needed a survey textbook that would cover African art the way that Jansen et al. cover Western art. Treating the subject from an art historical rather than an anthropological perspective, this groundbreaking book is organized geographically to cover the entire continent. Each of the five regional sections focuses on selected major art traditions instead of attempting to cover every known art-producing culture. Though written by four respected African art scholars, the text obviously has been designed to be readable to the undergraduate student or interested general reader. Accompanying the text are over 700 photos and scores of maps, plans, drawings, etc. Some readers might quibble about the inclusion or exclusion of certain art forms, but overall this volume is a remarkable achievement that will richly reward anyone interested in the subject. Highly recommended.ÄEugene C. Burt, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This is the most recent of three works on African art published in the past five years. The first, Visual Arts of Africa: Gender, Power and Life Cycle Rituals (1998), by Judith Perani and Fred T. Smith, was followed by the CD-ROM Art and Life in Africa (CH, Jun'99), with contributions by Christopher Roy and Lee McIntyre. The book under review was carefully compiled by a committee of scholars who worked for almost a decade surveying the abundant scholarly literature on African art in social context. This volume is the most comprehensive of the three, for it includes a chapter on Egypt and Nubia as well as abundant discussion of contemporary African art, and a chapter on African art in the diaspora. There are some 700 illustrations, including 120 color photographs and nine maps. The book is particularly rich for the fascinating blend of "traditional" and "contemporary," "sacred" and "everyday," all illustrated with excellent photographs of art being used in context, taken by the most prominent scholars of African art. Numerous high quality photographs of important objects in international collections; chapter bibliographies. General readers; undergraduates. C. D. Roy; University of Iowa

Table of Contents

Rowland AbiodunSuzanne BlierMonica Blackmun VisonaMonica Blackmun VisonaMonica Blackmun VisonaMonica Blackmun VisonaHerbert M. ColeMonica Blackmun VisonaHerbert M. ColeRobin PoynorHerbert M. ColeRobin PoynorRobin PoynorRobin PoynorMonica Blackmun VisonaMonica Blackmun VisonaMichael Harris
Prefacep. 10
Africa, Art, and History: An Introductionp. 14
I. From the Nile to the Nigerp. 24
1 The Sahara and the Maghrebp. 26
Central Saharan Rock Artp. 27
Large Wild Fauna Stylep. 27
Archaic Stylep. 28
Pastoralist Stylep. 29
Later Styles and Subjectsp. 30
The Maghreb and the Ancient Mediterranean Worldp. 30
Carthagep. 31
Numidia and Mauritaniap. 32
Romep. 32
The Coming of Islamp. 33
The Great Mosque of Qairouanp. 33
The Qarawiyyan Mosquep. 34
Regional Berber Artsp. 37
Architecture and Household Arts in the Northern Mountainsp. 37
Architecture and Household Arts in the Saharap. 40
Personal Arts of the Shleuh and Tuaregp. 42
Contemporary Art of North Africap. 46
Aspects of African Culture: Personal Adornmentp. 44
2 Lands of the Nile: Egypt, Nubia, and Ethiopiap. 48
Early Nile Culturesp. 49
Kemetp. 52
Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdomp. 52
New Kingdomp. 56
Kushp. 60
Axum and Its Timep. 64
Egypt in the Sphere of Greece, Rome, and Byzantiump. 64
Palaces and Tombs of Axump. 66
Ballanap. 66
Early Christian Arts of Nubia and Ethiopiap. 67
Farasp. 68
Lalibelap. 68
Early Solomonic Periodp. 70
Islamic Art of Egyptp. 71
Later Christian Art of Ethiopiap. 72
Lower Nubia Before the Aswan Damp. 74
Contemporary Artists of Sudan and Ethiopiap. 76
3 The Central Sudanp. 78
Ancient Art in Fired Clayp. 79
Nokp. 79
Burap. 80
Saop. 81
Living Arts of Small Communitiesp. 82
The Dakakari and the Nigerian Plateaup. 82
The Ga'anda and the Gongola Riverp. 83
Musgum and the Logone Riverp. 86
The Jukun of the Middle Benue Riverp. 88
The Chamba of the Nigeria/Cameroon Borderlandsp. 88
The Mumuye of the Upper Benue Riverp. 91
The Mambila of the Nigeria/Cameroon Borderlandsp. 92
The Imperial Arts of the Kanuri and Hausap. 94
Hausa Mosques and Civic Architecturep. 95
Art, Literacy, and Mystic Faithp. 99
The Fulanip. 100
The Futa Djallonp. 100
The Inland Niger Deltap. 101
Southern Nigerp. 103
Northeastern Nigeria and the Adamawap. 105
4 Mande Worlds and the Upper Nigerp. 106
In the Sphere of Ancient Empiresp. 107
Wagadup. 107
Mali and the Inland Niger Deltap. 109
The Architectural Legacy of Jennep. 110
Takrur and Jolofp. 113
Recent Mande Arts: Nyamakalaw and Their Workp. 113
Gwan and Jop. 114
Ntomo and Tyi Warap. 116
Bogolanfinip. 119
Komo and Konop. 121
Kore, Secular Masquerades, and Puppetryp. 122
Arts of the Homep. 124
Art for the International Marketp. 126
5 The Western Sudanp. 130
The Tellemp. 131
The Dogonp. 132
Sculpturep. 133
Architecturep. 137
Masks and Masqueradesp. 140
The Senufop. 144
Porop. 145
Sandogop. 147
Masks and Masqueradesp. 149
Places of Assembly and Celebrationp. 152
Tourist Artsp. 153
Related Peoples of Burkina Fasop. 155
Lobi Sculpture and Metalworkp. 155
Bwa Masqueradesp. 158
Mossi Sculpture and Maskingp. 161
Nankani Architecturep. 162
II. Western Africap. 166
6 West Atlantic Forestsp. 168
Early Artsp. 169
Stone Figuresp. 169
Export Ivoriesp. 171
Masking and Related Artsp. 173
Initiations of the Jola, the Bidjogo, and Their Neighborsp. 173
Performed Art of the Baga and Their Neighborsp. 176
Women's and Men's Societies: Sande/Bondo and Porop. 180
Masks and Sacred Authority: The Dan and Their Neighborsp. 184
Women's Arts Among the Dan and the Wep. 187
Masquerades of the Gurop. 189
Cross-Currents and Hybrid Formsp. 191
American-African Architecturep. 191
Festival Artsp. 191
Contemporary International Artp. 192
7 Akan Worldsp. 194
The Visual-Verbal Nexusp. 195
Regalia and Arts of Statecraftp. 196
Regalia in Ghanap. 197
Stools and Chairsp. 198
State Swordsp. 199
Linguist Staffsp. 200
Baule and Lagoons Regaliap. 201
Metal Arts: The Culture of Goldp. 203
Textilesp. 206
Terracotta Funerary Sculpturep. 208
Wood Sculpture and Shrinesp. 210
Akua Map. 211
Asante Carvings and Shrinesp. 211
Baule and Lagoons Carvings and Shrinesp. 213
Secular Carvingsp. 215
Royal Festivals in Ghanap. 216
Baule Masks and Masqueradesp. 218
Golip. 218
Bonu Amwin and Dop. 219
Age-Grade Arts of Lagoons Peoplesp. 220
Arts of Fante Military Companiesp. 221
Lives Well Lived: Contemporary Funerary Artsp. 225
International Artp. 226
Aspects of African Culture: Art and Leadershipp. 196
8 The Yoruba and the Fonp. 228
Early Ifep. 229
Archaic and Pre-Pavement Periodsp. 229
Pavement Periodp. 230
Early Owop. 236
Esiep. 238
Recent Yoruba Artp. 239
Royal Artsp. 239
The Ogboni Societyp. 243
Art and the Spirit Worldp. 245
Orunmila and Eshup. 246
Ogun, Osanyin, and Eyinlep. 251
Shango and Ibejip. 252
Masks and Masqueradesp. 255
Dahomeyp. 259
Royal Artsp. 260
Art and the Spirit Worldp. 263
Modern Artsp. 266
Brazilian Architecturep. 266
Movements in Oshogbop. 268
The Ono Groupp. 272
Aspects of African Culture: Lost-Wax Castingp. 234
9 The Lower Nigerp. 274
Igbo Ukwup. 274
Recent and Contemporary Igbo Artsp. 278
Title Artsp. 279
Shrines and Shrine Figuresp. 282
Mbarip. 285
Ugonachonmap. 289
Masks and Masqueradesp. 290
Shared Themes in Lower Niger Artsp. 296
Personal Altarsp. 296
Light/Dark Masking: Beauties and Beastsp. 298
Hierarchical Compositionsp. 302
Ibibio Memorial Artsp. 303
Oron Ancestral Figuresp. 305
Kalabari Ijaw Festivals and Memorial Artsp. 306
Benin: Six Centuries of Royal Artsp. 310
Art, Ideology, and the Benin Worldp. 311
Plaquesp. 316
Royal Altarsp. 318
Portuguese Presence in Benin Artsp. 323
Masks and Masqueradesp. 325
Mamy Watap. 326
Aspects of African Culture: Shrines and Altarsp. 283
III. Central Africap. 328
10 Cross River, Cameroon Grasslands, and Gabonp. 330
Cross Riverp. 331
Early Artsp. 331
Recent Arts of Secret Societiesp. 333
Cameroon Grasslandsp. 338
Palace Architecturep. 339
Arts of the Royal Treasuriesp. 342
Royal Spectacle and Masquerade Artsp. 349
Maritime Arts: The Dualap. 352
Gabonp. 355
Reliquary Figuresp. 355
Masks and Masqueradesp. 360
Contemporary International Artsp. 364
Aspects of African Culture: Masqueradesp. 336
11 The Western Congo Basinp. 366
Early Artp. 367
The Kongo Kingdomp. 367
Early Leadership Artsp. 367
Religious Arts: Christianity and Afterp. 369
Funerary and Memorial Artsp. 371
Minkisip. 376
The Tekep. 378
In the Sphere of the Lunda Empirep. 379
Chokwe Leadership and Initiation Artsp. 380
The Yaka and the Sukup. 385
The Pendep. 391
The Salampasup. 394
The Kubap. 396
Leadership Artsp. 397
Ndopp. 397
Architecturep. 398
Prestige Objectsp. 399
Textile Artsp. 400
Masks and Masqueradesp. 402
In the Shadow of the Kuba: The Ndengese, the Binji, and the Wongop. 405
The Luluap. 406
Contemporary Urban and International Artp. 408
12 The Eastern Congo Basinp. 412
Early Art from the Upemba Depressionp. 412
In the Sphere of the Luba Empirep. 413
The Luba Heartlandp. 414
The Hembap. 419
The Tabwap. 420
The Songyep. 422
Societies of the Lega, the Bembe, the Mbole, and the Azandep. 423
Bwamip. 424
Elanda and 'Alungap. 426
Lilwap. 427
Manip. 428
Court Art of the Azande and the Mangbetup. 429
The Mbutip. 434
Contemporary Artsp. 435
Aspects of African Culture: Rites of Passagep. 424
IV. Eastern and Southern Africap. 438
13 Eastern Africap. 440
The Swahili Coastp. 441
Islamic Artsp. 441
Arts of Leadershipp. 444
Domestic Architecturep. 445
Other Coastal Bantu Culturesp. 448
Prestige Arts of the Interlacustrine Regionp. 453
The Nyamwezip. 453
Royal Treasuriesp. 454
Ceramics and Basketryp. 455
Masquerades and Other Arts of the Maravi, the Makonde, the Makua, and the Yaop. 456
Nyaup. 456
Lipikop. 459
Sculpturep. 460
Export Artp. 460
Madagascarp. 461
Memorial Artsp. 462
Cushitic and Nilo-Saharan Speakers of the Interiorp. 464
Memorial Figures and Stone Tombsp. 464
Personal Artsp. 466
Contemporary Artists of Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenyap. 469
Aspects of African Culture: Cycles and Circlesp. 458
14 Southern Africap. 472
Rock Art of Southern and Eastern Africap. 473
Earliest Imagesp. 473
Zimbabwep. 475
Tanzania and Eastern Africap. 476
The Drakensberg Mountainsp. 476
Early Art of Bantu Speakersp. 478
The Shona and Great Zimbabwep. 479
Recent Art of the Shona and Their Neighborsp. 483
Art and Ancestorsp. 483
Initiations and Related Artp. 484
Arts of the Sotho and the Ngunip. 487
Art and Leadership Among the Sotho and the Tswanap. 488
Nguni Beadworkp. 488
Nguni Arts of Daily Lifep. 490
Architecturep. 492
Art and Contemporary Issuesp. 494
International Artp. 494
Art Under Apartheidp. 495
V. The Diasporap. 498
15 Art of the African Diasporap. 500
Art in Slave and Folk Settingsp. 501
Speaking Through New Formsp. 504
Reclaiming Africap. 508
Image and Ideap. 508
Getting Behind the Mask: TransAtlantic Dialoguesp. 514
African Heritage in Popular and Ritual Artsp. 519
Five Contemporary Artistsp. 524
Glossaryp. 528
Annotated Bibliographyp. 529
Picture Creditsp. 537
Indexp. 540