Cover image for The tribal arts of Africa : [surveying Africa's artistic geography]
The tribal arts of Africa : [surveying Africa's artistic geography]
Bacquart, Jean-Baptiste.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Thames & Hudson, 2002.

Physical Description:
240 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 31 cm
General Note:
Subtitle from cover.

Originally published: 1998.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N7380 .B32 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This work displays and defines the fruits of thousands of years of black African creative endeavour. All the objects included were made by Africans for their own use, spanning a period from the beginning of the first millennium to the early 20th century, before the commercial production of art aimed at the tourist trade.

Author Notes

Jean-Baptiste Bacquart studied art history and archaeology at the Sorbonne and the Ecole du Louvre. Formerly Head of the Tribal Art Department at Sotheby's, London, he now works as a consultant, advising museums and private collectors on the acquisition and conservation of tribal works of art.
Back, above, left: an Afro-Portuguese salt cellar, c. 16th century; above, right: a Warka mask; centre: a Mangbetu cephalomorphic ceramic; below, left: a Kikuyu shield; below, right: an Eket circular mask.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Amateur art lovers and professional collectors may appreciate Bacquart's presentation of African art throughout the regions south of the Sahara, with pieces dating from the first millennium to more recent times. Bacquart notes the difficulty of defining "genuine" tribal art and settles for the criteria used by scholars and collectors: that the art must have been made by an African and used during tribal ceremonies. Objects that were valued by Europeans, who took many pieces for museums, were valued by Africans for their usefulness in acknowledging social status, curing illnesses, or other social objectives. Bacquart discusses 49 specific cultural regions, the indigenous tribes and the art they produce, and the ceremonial usages of that art (e.g., masks to announce the death of important chiefs or ladles to honor the most generous women in the village). Bacquart laments that with so many of the arts and artifacts removed from their cultural contexts, they've lost their original significance. This well-researched book, with more than 850 beautiful photographs, helps to recover some of that cultural significance. --Vanessa Bush

Choice Review

Bacquart has succeeded in building a long-needed synthesis of art works from the most prestigious collections of African tribal art across Europe and America, and he interweaves them with textual references that concisely outline the history of collecting African tribal art in the Western world. He incorporates the most significant, updated material of works now familiar because of their high aesthetic quality and established status within the realm of world art. Bacquart divides the major cultural areas into 49 sections, focusing on one most important tribe within each area and with a survey of the sociopolitical structures interwoven with the artistic structures. Other tribes of lesser but related artistic output are also interlinked. It is only due to the author's keen organizational skills and aesthetically satisfying layout of text, plates, and exquisite photography that he was able to achieve so much coverage with astute scholarliness and exceptionally smooth readability. Every library from university to undergraduate and general readership levels through professionals must have this reference available as a work of art in its own right and for the exquisite balance of clarity of expression, comprehensiveness, and authenticity of information unavailable in any other single volume on African tribal art in English. J. L. Leahy Marygrove College

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 8
I The Coast of West Africap. 16
Bagap. 20
Sapi-Grebop. 24
The Lagoon Regionsp. 28
Asantep. 32
Danp. 36
Guro-Yaurep. 40
Bete-Gerep. 44
Baulep. 48
II Inland West Africap. 52
Djennep. 56
Dogonp. 60
Bambarap. 64
Lobi-Mossip. 68
Senufop. 72
III Nigeria and Cameroonp. 76
Nokp. 80
Beninp. 84
The Benue Area of Nigeriap. 88
The Niger River Deltap. 92
Inland Nigeriap. 96
Yorubap. 100
Cameroonp. 104
The Grassland of Cameroonp. 108
IV Gabon and Zairep. 112
Punup. 116
Kotap. 120
Fangp. 124
Kongop. 128
Tekep. 132
Middle Lualaba River Areap. 136
Mangbetup. 140
Mbolep. 144
Legap. 148
Bembep. 152
Lubap. 156
Hembap. 160
Tabwap. 164
Songyep. 168
Kubap. 172
Pendep. 176
Luluap. 180
Yakap. 184
Tchokwep. 188
V East and South Africap. 192
Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundip. 196
Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwep. 200
Madagascarp. 204
Kenya, Ethiopia, Somaliap. 208
The Coast of Tanzaniap. 212
The North-Eastern Regions of Tanzaniap. 216
The Central-Western Regions of Tanzaniap. 220
The Western Regions of Tanzaniap. 224
South Africa, Namibia, Botswanap. 228
Bibliographyp. 232
Major museumsp. 233
Major dealersp. 236
Glossaryp. 237
Photographic creditsp. 238
Indexp. 239