Talk:African art

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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article is or was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Kalemckean.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 13:32, 16 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


To incorporate:

I am an undergrad art history major at Fordham. I can write the african influence section on modern art as soon as I finish finals on Wednesday.

Removed pic[edit]

I felt there were too many pictures, so I deleted the second ebony carving pic in order to fill up the huge white space. Moreair15

Well that wasnt very nice....jk LilLadyTi —Preceding undated comment was added at 02:51, 7 November 2008 (UTC).

Mabe it was mabe it wasn't — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:25, 25 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The last edit before this COTW started: here I'm pretty astounded at how small this stub is.

Here's one source I wrote a stub of information from: [1] Ashibaka tlk 02:17, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Swedish article[edit]

The Swedish Wikipedia has a much better article on African art. Anyone fancy translating it? Tom- 10:37, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

...I've posted a request on a few multilingual Swedish Wikipedian's talk pages. I hope they can help :) Tom- 11:01, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Botswana Basket Weaving[edit]

When I visited Botswana I had the pleasure of observing their basket weaving skills first hand. Here's a brief writeup that perhaps somebody may want to expand, if interested. — RJH 20:44, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

In the northern part of Botswana, tribal women in the villages of Etsha and Gumare are noted for their skill at crafting baskets from Mokola Palm and local dyes. The baskets were generally woven into large, lidded baskets used for storage; large, open baskets for carrying objects on the head or for winnowing threshed grain; and smaller plates for winnowing pounded grain. The artistry of these baskets is being steadily enhanced through color use and improved designs as they are increasingly produced for commercial use.

With some tense changes, I'll just insert this mostly as it is. Since this is stil CotW someone else will probably help with wording. Ashibaka tlk 22:47, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

LYKE OMG YOU CAN'T USE THAT! IT'S ORIGNAL RESEARCH IT'S AGNST THE RULES --Atlantima (talk) 02:44, 16 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Commented out list of countries[edit]

Where does this list come from? It doesn't seem complete. Where's Malawi? Zaire? I don't recognise many of them. Are they taken from the Swedish article? If so, why is the sectioning so different? Mr. Jones 15:36, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It is a list pulled from the Swedish article. I commented them out because they were blank and Ivory Coast, Egypt and Botswana I think were restored. It is not in alphabetical order, it is taken directly from the Swedish. It mostly uses tribal divisions over modern country divisions (and anyway Zaire has become Democratic Republic of the Congo so you won't see it much).
It was originally just commented out not deleted because it was collaboration of the week so a list would already be provided and many of those sections hopefully would be restored because of the high activity.
Hope that answers your question. Wikiacc 20:47, 17 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Yes, that's clear, thank you. Could someone (me, perhaps?) find a complete list of countries in Africa? Just for reference. I understand the commented out bits are pending translation. Mr. Jones 09:10, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

the sophistication of african art tecniques in many parts of africa had little to nothing to do the spread of islam. the art of the kingdom of benin and ile ife for example evolved in relative isolation from the outside world. highly spohisticated sculpture was present in the region since 500. BCE

Category:African countries seems to cover it :-) African Languages is probably pertinent, too as cultural, e.g. artistic, divides are often due to linguistic ones. Mr. Jones 09:21, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I also think tribal groupings (or even micro-regional approaches) may be a better way of approaching this subject, as opposed to by nation-state -- particularly since the European division of the continent created false divisions among like groups of the same or culturally related peoples. The exception is where a form of art is particular to a specific country -- like the Adinkra symbols, gold weights and kente cloth of Ghana, for example, or the Benin bronzes -- which probably deserve special mention. deeceevoice 20:13, 4 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cowrie shells and the meaning of art[edit]

Cowrie shells can be found in the art of indigenous (black) African peoples from one end of the continent to the other. They are used in Ghana and Nigeria. In Cameroon, Gabon, Mali. South Africa. In Kenya. In dynastic Egypt. They're certainly widely used enough to be mentioned here. Chiwara, your edit is reverted. (But if the "geographic"/"geometric" brain fart was mine, thanks for correcting it.) deeceevoice 20:04, 4 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The major reason I object to this is that the opening section is specifically intended to discuss non-specific aspects of African art - it is to focus purely on the theoretical. Cowrie shells are, of course, widely used as decoration throughout central, western, and southern Africa. So is wood. And paint. And metal. And beads. But I do not mention these because these are specific decorations, whereas the section on utilitarianism is discussing the utilitarianism of African art in a general sense, not tied to specific geographic region or mode of decoration. If you wish to add an entire section on the use of cowrie shells in African art, please do, but unless you can discuss a specific item that is used as decoration on every single piece of art produced in the entire continent, do not include it in the opening section. But furthermore, cowrie shell decoration does not necessarily classify something as artistic, at least not in the same way an ancestral sculpture or sophisticated geometric design would. For this reason also, I question your use of cowrie shells here. So again, if you want to create an entire cowrie shell section, I'd be more than happy to collaborate (it would actually make for a fascinating research project), I just don't think it is appropriate for the beginning. I hope this clears my point.Chiwara 05:34, 5 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sorry, but it seems to me your point doesn't hold up. Not every work of traditional African art is decorated with any of the other items mentioned in the paragraph, either; but they are mentioned because they are in many instances what renders utitilitarian items objets d' art. You cannot have it both ways. You can't remove cowrie shells and leave in all the other elements -- which are not universal, either. Again, with regard to a "specific geographic region," cowrie shells span the continent -- probably because they were used as currency -- and are not specific to any particular nation-state, ethnic or tribal grouping. There is record of their decorative use as far back as about 2000 B.C. in dynastic Egypt. If I'm still not getting our point get back at me. In the meantime, I've added "often," to make certain inclusion of the items also fits your seemingly arbitrary criterion when it comes to cowrie shells, added "cowrie shells" and "raffia." And most certainly the addition of cowrie shells is an element of an artistic creation. It astounds me that you think they are not. They are, after all, not utilitarian; they are used for embellishment as well as for their meaning. deeceevoice 12:02, 5 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

First off, these aren't my criteria. They were put together by a group of art historians from Harvard, U Florida, U North Carolina, UC-Santa Barbara, and the University of Denver in an effort to discuss the most broad-ranging visual foundations of African art. In any event, I am not objecting to the presence of cowrie shells in the section because you are wrong about how often they are used, and who uses them - you're not. I'm objecting because the opening section is meant to discuss African art in theoretical terms before the following sections get in to specifics about art from country to country. At least that's how I intended it. I am trying to keep the opening section as vague as possible in order to avoid stereotyping African art in any sense. Cowrie shells and raffia, being physically real symbols (which is not the same of "geometric pattern" "color" or "ancestral figure") automatically udermine the theoretical framework of the opening section. That's my point. I am trying to make this article reflect the complete diversity of African art in all its forms, but if you want to to open up by saying "most African art has raffia and cowrie shells" (which is really only true in terms of sculpture - you kind of left out the rest of African art, like painting and performance and ceramics) then go ahead. Chiwara 12:51, 5 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sorry. You don't know what you're talking about. This list of "criteria" didn't even mention utilitarianism until I came to the article and added it -- which is astounding, since it is the primary defining element of traditional African art. It is so central to the nature of African art, that I put it before all the other elements. It is something that distinguishes African art from European art. The notion of art for display or for purely aesthetic purposes is completely foreign to indigenous African cultures. In fact, the whole first section on utilitarianism didn't exist before I wrote it -- and I didn't depend on the source(s) you mention; I pulled it out my well-read a**. If your art historians didn't mention it, then they're not terribly competent or comprehensive -- are they? Furthermore, an encyclopedia is meant to be a compendium of knowledge/information on subjects, not to adhere to any particular person's (or group's) singular notion of that subject. Cowrie shells are just as elemental and symbolic -- again, they have meaning -- as certain geometric configurations, certain colors, certain structural elements, as much as ancestral figures, which is likely another reason they're so widely used across the length and breadth of the continent among indigenous African peoples. And that's my point.

Furthermore, "leaving out" something is not the same as contributing something. I've contributed additional information. What I have not contributed I've either left to other editors -- or simply haven't gotten around to yet. There are whole sections that haven't even begun to be dealt with: rock art, textiles, glass beads, basketry, body art and scarification, body piercing, pottery, metalsmithing and casting -- even a passing nod to architecture and hairstyling. After all, Wikipedia is a work in progress. There is no due date for article creation or completion. I see you've done a little work on the piece too. Does that mean you've "left out" these items, as well? My, how careless of you! :p

The article also needs broader pictorial representations. So far, all there is is sculpture and one textile. Maybe one of these days I'll get around to adding pics of one or two of my masks, kente cloth, pottery, etc. Perhaps you or someone else will. There's certainly plenty of room for improvement of the piece. And I think the discussion on the article's structure should be continued. I don't think this is the best framework for the piece for reasons I've stated above. deeceevoice 13:04, 5 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Oh, and one other thing. You're incorrect about the raffia and cowrie shells being used only in sculpture. Raffia is used in masks. It's used in costumes/dress. It's used in shields, baskets and bowls. It's used in the "velvets" and other textiles. Cowrie shells are used in masks, weaponry, jewelry, on hats and clothing, as design elements in textiles, etc. deeceevoice 13:26, 5 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1)First off, my mistake on the utilitarian section. The other parts of the original section were authored entirely by me, with help from Suzanne Blier of Harvard University (as cited). For some reason I actually thought that I wrote the utilitarian section, which means I agree with you. But I disagree with you saying that European art is somehow non-utilitarian while African art is. It seems to me you are operating under the idea that Europeans create some sort of "high art" while all African art is tied to specific use in the daily realm. This is the primary reason that it would not be mentioned in this book - contemporary art historians have all but abandoned the idea of "high art." All art is seen as utilitarian in some sense. European paintings, now considered "high art" were used as religious paintings, icons, or illustrations of historical events. That's utilitarian. Art historians consider all art this way, at least until you get to contemporary art movements where art is being created under the guise of art for art's sake (at least in the aesthetic sense).

2)You are very correct that this article is in need of a major overhaul. I plan on going through and creating an "art of" section for each country (as applicable - I doubt Equatorial Guinea will have much). I think we can then create a link to a larger "Art of [country]" article, which can then be divided by culture group. The DRC, Mali, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa, etc., will probably have the largest. My specialty is central Africa, specifically the BaKongo and Chokwe, but I focus elsewhere as well. We can combine other articles as needed. Care to collaborate on this, since you seem as equally concerned with this article as I?

3)Perhaps you should explain in the article exactly what cowrie shells mean - since I am very curious to know. I have heard and read much information on the symbolic associations of ancestral figures and geometric patterns in relation to African cosmology and belief systems, (I plan on adding this information later, at least when I have time to sit down and write a large piece at a time) but rarely have I heard such ideas attached to cowrie shells or raffia. Please add this information - I am very curious to know. I find it fascinating that you so quickly dismiss me, since I seem to be the only person in this article who actually bothers to reference my work.

4) Masks are sculpture. They are made of wood. They are then sculpted. Art historians refer to them as sculpture, and I have never heard a respectable art historian or Africanist make a mask/sculpture distinction. I am very aware of the presence of raffia in masks, as well as cowrie shells, seeing as how the Dan mask above my desk is decorated with both raffia and cowrie shells. The Marka mask from Mali, however, contains neither. Instead it has hammered metal covering, garnished with red tassles. Much like my Chiwara.

Like I said, I was never disagreeing with you about the use of cowrie shells as decoration. Didn't you read what I wrote?

Do you have any training in African art history? I am always curious to know the experiences of others.

Anyway, I will start editing the DRC section, adding culture groups and whatnot. I feel that's more important than this discussion.Chiwara 02:10, 6 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gottdammit! Another response completely obliterated by a collateral-damage block. I'll make this brief.
Don't mistake or twist my meaning. First off, my classification (and that of others) of African art as "utilitarian" has absolutely nothing to do with the somewhat racist and Eurocentrist notion of "high art." Further, I didn't say that there was absolutely no such thing as utilitarian European art. What I said was that all traditional African art is, which is a defining characteristic that sets it apart from European art. I'm mystified by your contention that all European art is utilitarian. I'd be interested in knowing how, say, the work of Brancusi is utilitarian. How is the Mona Lisa utilitarian? What about landscape paintings? What about Pollack's works? How about Botero? Or, Kline? Motherwell? What about Moholy-Nagy? How are they functional? How are they used?
Even if you classify masks as sculpture, your contention that raffia and cowrie shells are used only in sculpture is simply incorrect, as the examples I provided illustrate. I didn't say say that raffia had any symbolic meaning. It may, but I'm not aware of it. Again, as I indicated, I added raffia, because it is a common and widely used element used to transform everyday, utilitarian objects into art -- and, as in the Kuba "velvets" and basketry, it is the central element of the art object itself. Cowrie shells can have various meanings. Probably because they were used as currency, they can signify high standing, wealth or high regard. Because they are used in divination, they can represent the spiritual or mystical. They also can represent death, mourning, or the ancestors. And, possibly because they bear some resemblance to the labia majora of females, they can represent the feminine.
And I'm not dismissive of you. I've merely refuted/taken issue with some of your comments, which are decidedly off the mark. Don't make/take this personal. deeceevoice 10:44, 6 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Missed one paragraph of your post completely. I'm not willing to make a commitment to the article -- for any number of reasons. I would suggest, however, that the article be retitled to "African art (traditional)" and focus on that narrower subject. There is certainly enough material to fill out the piece. Another article could treat contemporary African art. deeceevoice 12:56, 6 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Kline, Motherwell, Pollock, and Brancusi are all modern artists, which I said do not fall under my "utilitarian" heading, since they are 20th century visual-philosophical works not intended for use. Earlier European portraits and paintings were typically used as religious devotional images, portraits meant to portray the power of a family, or landscape paintings used the engage in any number of narratives. Landscapes by no means have a single use, as their lack of real subject matter allows for a variety of meaning. Its not utilitarian in that you use the phyiscal aspect of the painting (or sculpture, etc.) to accomplish a task, but rather its visual aspect. The same is true of African art.

Make sense?Chiwara 23:57, 7 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Only partly. And what of paintings or depictions of beggars and the like? No wealth involved there. Not even necessarily any kind of political or social statement. The same with most landscapes. There is no doubt that "art for art's sake" is a very European sensibility. In terms of the "utility" or functionality of certain European art, it's really stretching the point to say that it has some sort of usefulness other than as purely decorative objects. deeceevoice 16:48, 17 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"The style and fluidity of the human form in Egyptian art of this era far surpassed its counterparts in Greece which often contained awkward transition between torso and pelvis, and pelvis and thigh."

Needs a couple of references if it's going to stay, I'm not sure Egypt should canonically be considered part of 'African Art' as well. Besides, Greek art is universally considered to be the most influential (relative) artform in western culture.

You can consider Egypt part of ancient Mediterranean art, in line with Greece and Rome and whatnot, but Greece in no way straight-up borrowed its art forms from Egypt. In turn, Egyptian art had a great influence on kingdoms in Kush and Axum in Sudan and Ethiopia, so at this point many art historians do consider Egypt as part of Africa (since geographically, it is) and include discussions of Egyptian art in larger studies of African art. I'd also take exception to saying that Greek art is "universally considered" the most influential in Western culture. Most Cubists, for example, would disagree with you.Chiwara 22:29, 8 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Uh, 'scuse me, but a little clarification here. Egyptian dynastic culture began in the south -- in Sudan and Ethiopia/Eritrea (ancient Abysinnia). Egypt did not merely transport art and artistic innovation to these areas. Architecturally, the first pyramids were built in Kush -- not Egypt. Egyptian civilization began in Upper Egypt and spread northward, and the flourishing of art/architecture and science was the result of a confluence of African cultures. It is wholly inaccurate, and helps fuel a eurocentrist Semitic, whites-civilizing-blacks myth to suggest that Egypt exported art to the rest of the Nile Valley civilizations. Certainly, Egyptian art is African art. In fact, some very early examples of Egyptian statuary often are mistaken for West African/sub-Saharan art. There is, in fact, a piece on prominent display in the collection of Frank Lloyd Wright at Falling Water. deeceevoice 16:35, 21 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Actually, Egypt gave overwhermingly more advances in art, culture, civilization, domesticiation, and many other things to the rest of Africa (as did other African civilizations such as the Bantu peoples, the empire of mali, and ethiopia, of course) than it received from them. Domestication-- which is the very basis for having a sizable enough population to even have a civilization, and even build pyramids in the first place (by the way, I'd like you to show proof that the first pyramids were in Kush)-- came to Egypt from the Fertile Crescent. Only after domestication techniques were introduced from the Fertile Crescent was Egypt able to domesticate sycamore figs, chufas, donkeys and cats-- advances which they would spread to nearby parts of Africa. In Africa, there is no guarantee that anyone ever developed domestication independently-- Ethiopia, Sahel, and parts of West Africa may have independently developed domestication, but the jury is still out on that-- and Egypt surely did not.
The effect of domestication on history is very difficult to underestimate-- if you look at civilizations which have succeeded its either those who independently developed domestication, or those who got it from other cultures and then domesticated a couple of their own local species. Civilizations without domestication (except in rare instances) have not been able to produce enough food to feed such specialists as artists, kings, etc. This is why so much African art is so solely concerned with utility-- because that's the only feasible option in societies without a huge food surplus.
You thinking that this strongly supported historical record fuels whites-civilizing-blacks myths has nothing to do with whether or not it happened. It simply did. Not because of Egyptians' skin color, but because of their geography and natural resources available to them, as well as an excellent trading position.--Urthogie 17:48, 21 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have no idea where you get information from, but the first pyramid was King Djoser's pyramid at Saqqara from about 2600 BCE. This predates any and all pyramids elsewhere, including those in Kush, the most famous of which are at Meroe from the first millennium BCE. Also, I'm absolutely shocked that, again, I'm hearing people say that African art is solely concerned with utility. Go watch a Yoruba egungun masquerade and tell me what the utility of that is. Berber decorated multicolored wedding garments, Kongo imperial statuary, Maasai beadwork, I could go on. These objects are by no means utilitarian. To say that all African societies never had any food surplus is blatantly wrong, and frankly ignores all of the incredibly power and wealthy states and kingdoms that have existed in Africa throughout its history. Kongo, Songhai, Mali, Ghana, Swahili city-states, Great Zimbabwe. And to even equate "not having a food surplus" with "only making utilitarian art" also seems ludicrous to me, and frankly to many other art historians. If we assume the Maasai, for instance, never had a food surplus (which is probably very wrong), you can't tell me that their incredibly detailed an decorative beadwork is purely utilitarian. It's functional in that it conveys social messages like status, class position, gender and whatnot - but is by no means physically functional.Chiwara 18:18, 27 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Noone is saying that African art is purely utilitarian. What I said is that where there was no food surplus, there was very varely non-utilitarian art.
  • Noone is saying that art that is utilized does not convey artistic, social, etc. messages. I never said the utilized art is somehow inferior. It simply represents the resources available in the society.
  • Noone is saying African nations didn't have food surpluses. Many of them did, such as those in Egypt, Sahel, West Africa, Mali, and Ethiopia, among others.
  • What you say about the Egyptian pyramid simply proves my point. The Egyptians started domesticating in 6000 BC, after domestication was introduced to them from the fertile crescent.
  • Noone is saying you need domestication for a food surplus. However, most food surpluses of a significant degree have occured in sedentary societies that domesticate and farm.

--Urthogie 20:32, 27 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Common Features[edit]

You're all missing a huge feature common to nearly all African art: the human figure. It is the primary subject of African art.

Also, I don't think having utility as a unique African trait makes much sense, because ALL art has literal or symbolic utility. There is no such thing as a work of art in any culture that just sits there being art and nothing else, without any context.

I agree with you on both accounts. I am very much in favor of removing the "utility" tag, since as I believe I said elsewhere, all art has "utility" in some sense. As for African art being primarily humanistic: if there is one generalization about representational African art you can make, that one I would not have a problem agreeing with. Chiwara 05:01, 19 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm currently taking a course on African Art History. When I have more time I'll update the common features with sources from my textbooks.::Rglong 06:09, 9 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The "common features" section was originally taken ver batim from Monica Visona's "History of Art in Africa," now considered the standard book in the field. I am wondering whether the section needs to be there at all, especially considering the complete lack of info on the diversity of African arts in this article. As soon as the school year is over, I plan on creating subheading sections based on geographical regions, then classifying by people for the "traditional" section. The contemporary section needs a lot of work too.Chiwara 05:29, 22 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


It's summertime, so now I have time to commit to this article. I'd like others' input in the article's re-organization - I think it would make sense for this article to be divided into section by geographical area, and then sub-sectioned by cultural group. I don't think it is wise to divide it by country, since so many culture groups extend beyond national borders (i.e. the Chokwe and Yoruba peoples. Before making changes, I'd like to get a list of what the regions should be, and the groups contained therein. Here's mine for now:

NILE VALLEY: Ancient Egypt (Kemet); Kush; Nubia; Islamic Egypt; Coptic Egypt; Ethiopia

SAHARA and MAGHREB: Central Saharan rock art; ancient states (Carthage, Numidia, Mauritania); Berber/Tamazigh arts

CENTRAL SUDAN: Nok; Bura; Sao; Mumuye; Hausa; Fulani

UPPER NIGER (MANDE): Djenne; Mali; Songhai

WESTERN SUDAN: Tellem; Dogon; Senufo; Bwa; Bamana

WESTERN ATLANTIC: Sapi; Dan; Guro; Sande

GOLD COAST: Akan (Asante); Fante

LOWER NIGER and NIGERIA: Ife; Yoruba; Fon; Benin; Igbo

CAMEROON and GABON: Fang; Cameroon grasslands peoples

WESTERN CONGO BASIN: Kongo Kingdom; Teke; Lunda; Salampasu; Kuba

EASTERN CONGO BASIN: Luba; Hemba; Songye; Bembe; Bwende; Azande

SWAHILI COAST: Swahili and Islamic arts; Maasai

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Shona; Zimbabwe; Ndebele; Sotho; Nguni; Zulu

Any suggestions? Chiwara 02:13, 23 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Is Mali really Islamic?

           Brooke  —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:49, 14 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply] 
Most of the country is, and has been for the better part of a millennium. Indigenous peoples of Mali (Dogon, Bamana, etc.) were obviously not originally Muslims, but the religion has held powerful sway - with many Dogon and Bamana peoples practicing indigenous beliefs as well as Islamic ones.Chiwara 00:20, 15 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, Muslim is not necessarily the same as "Islamic" as the word is commonly used. "Islamic" often is used to mean pertaining to the religion itself and to the Middle East, or to the Moors (as in Moorish architecture). Malian culture is African and Muslim, but I wouldn't say that its, say, architecture, is predominantly Islamic (ceramic tiles, interior courtyards w/fountains, minarets, mahabishras, etc.); it is African. deeceevoice (talk) 06:51, 17 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dispora art and a removal[edit]

Does anyone know exactly to what extent art scholars include the art of African diasporas under the heading "African art"? Is it placed firmly in the category of the art of Africa, the current residence of the diasporas or as a transitional variant?

I also removed the following passage from the lead since it struck as being applicable to just about any artform and since it was fact tagged:

Multiplicity of Meaning: Symbols and forms in African art are typically intended to represent different things to different members of society, depending on age, gender, education, or social status.

If anyone feels that it does apply more uniquely to African art, do by all means reinsert it.

Peter Isotalo 06:43, 17 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

African Art[edit]

Styleish mordern day art is diffrent from african art. The word "Africa" comes from the word affpria meaning jungle.

human figure evidence of african contact?[edit]

I find the sentence in the first section surprising, absolutist and probably incorrect. Certainly impossible to prove: "In historical periods involving trade between Africa and Europe, the introduction of the human body into existing European pottery and other art forms can reliably be taken as evidence of contact with African cultures". An astonishing claim and quite unreliable: in fact the human figure has been a feature of every culture's canon of art forms that I can think of since prehistory and certainly since before trade contact with Africa. There are plenty of European examples of direct representation of the human figure long before regular trade links with Africa were established. Lgh (talk) 10:47, 16 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Help Needed on the History of Art page[edit]

Hi all, I don't know enough to make a good intro paragraph on African art, but wanted to point out to you all that the History of Art page could use some of your help. There is no good information under the African section except for a link to here. --TravisNygard (talk) 23:41, 24 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The article does have some merit - there are many useful hints at where it could go. But it needs attention from experts, not only in the field, but in the creation of wikipedia articles. One for the future...Ackees (talk) 15:19, 3 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would like to reinforce the statement of Ackees. I'm not an expert, but even the POV is personal here: "For this reason I have used [...]. I have used the name [...] This distinction may or may not be valid historically and ethnographically.." Not to speak of typos. I can contribute somehow (e.g. editing typos...), but can please some admin organise some copy-editing, rewriting, and crosslinking? I don't know any African anthropologists, and only one non-African anthropologists working in Africa. It would be great to ask someone who could integrate some expert knowledge and a neutral (i.e. non-eurocentric, but also non-nationalist/ethnocentic) viewpoint. --Botanischwili (talk) 19:25, 4 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Picture positioning[edit]

I noticed two issues: there is a Yoruba bronze casting of Oduduwa in the Dogon section, and at the very bottom there is a Makonde ebony carving in the Egyptian section. Afro-Eurasian (talk) 04:44, 7 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have started this, moving off 13Kb of nice stuff that was too detailed for here, but keeping the "lead". It needs images and wikifying over there. One day the Mali sections need the same treatment. Meanwhile the rest of the article here remains a very poor jumble. Johnbod (talk) 16:50, 14 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Too Reactionary[edit]

The POV and tone of this article needs reworked, it seems very "interested" in what Europeans or other groups thought of African Art. Obviously this is a reaction to slavery and colonialism, but the article on African Art should be more about African Art, and less about trying to demonstrate that it is not inferior to other forms. Perhaps someone who is not emotionally invested in the issue should write the article to be more informative and less POV. For example, I'm sure there are plenty of African people who think that Classical music is terrible, but no where on the classical musical article does it say: "Although, Africans disliked european music espspecially from the baroque period, it has now been accepted has a valuable tradition and style" This page should be about African Art not what certain groups of Europeans may or may not have thought about the art they were exposed to in the past. TheBookishOne (talk) 00:12, 1 June 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 06:08, 5 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I added some much needed citations in this articleKalemckean (talk) 07:28, 15 February 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Some parts of this articles are directly lifted from the New World Encyclopedia. Librarianhelen (talk) 03:52, 26 February 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Au contraire! "New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards..." Johnbod (talk) 04:49, 26 February 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It seems to me that this is both potentially conflict of interest as well as self-plagiarism. The New World Encyclopedia should at very least be cited. Entire sections are used verbatim. If the New World Encyclopedia is copyrighted material, it doesn't matter that the authors copy and pasted their own content here. I believe I am right in saying that it is still a violation. Librarianhelen (talk) 14:37, 26 February 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Huge, completely unsourced section under "Zambia"[edit]

There's a huge (nearly 1,600 words!), completely unsourced section under the heading "Contemporary African Art: By country: Zambia" that needs to be pared-down and properly sourced, or removed entirely. It is filled with weasel-words and PR-speak, such as "Zambia is arguably home to some of the world's most creative and talented artists" and "works of art that are often staggering in their scope" -- and those from just the first (of eight!) paragraph. It seems to focus on one particular organization, the Lechwe Trust, for which a Google search returns only a few hundred hits that don't point to some form of Wikimedia, or their own website. I would prefer it if the editor who added this section would take care of Wikifying it and reducing it in proportion to what is appropriate to the rest of the article, but if that doesn't happen, it should be removed entirely. Bricology (talk) 20:57, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 3 external links on African art. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

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This message was posted before February 2018. After February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete these "External links modified" talk page sections if they want to de-clutter talk pages, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{source check}} (last update: 18 January 2022).

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Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 17:42, 27 June 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Where is the Traditional African religion section?[edit]

You cannot talk about African art and its history without mentioning the Traditional African religions. I am shocked that perhaps the most important aspect of this article has been overlooked. I am creating a section for it - and history would fall under that section. That section can be expanded of course with time, and it would be immensely helpful if fellow editors can help with that expansion. Senegambianamestudy (talk) 23:34, 17 July 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can someone add Sudan to the template about African art?[edit]

Hello, I have written two articles about art in Sudan: Visual arts of Sudan and Architecture of Sudan. Can someone add these to the template for African art? Thanks, Munfarid1 (talk) 12:26, 22 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I tried, but it is wierdly/wrongly set up. Johnbod (talk) 14:13, 22 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
User:Finnusertop may be the one responsible. Only the art one should be added here. Johnbod (talk) 14:18, 22 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]