The Human Form: Africa Narratives

The human figure can tell so many stories. A simple gesture or pose of the human form can be so telling. In art, the human form can be one of the most important aspects of expression. When it comes to works of African art, the human form is very present. Seeing as how the people of Africa use their own bodies for forms of art, it is very common to see that presented in their traditional works as well. In this gallery viewers will see how the human form can be used as a narrative for stories of power, personal rituals, and how one shows how they represent themselves.  

The Equestrian Figure is featured in the show because the artist skillfully rendered the rider’s weapons and I wanted to show how objects that the human form holds are also important to the narrative; the same goes for the Hornblower figure. This piece has a strong representation of the spirit narrative in African work. I chose the Mask piece because it tells a narrative of how small, personal masks function as amulets among the Dan and neighboring cultures. Reliquary Guardian Figure and Standing Female Figure shows how the female form is celebrated; this is important to the African themed art.

   I believe that all of these pieces will relate well to the Human Form African Narrative because they all mean something different, and they all work well together,  

"Equestrian Figure — Minneapolis Institute of Art | Minneapolis Institute of Art." Minneapolis Institute of Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. Equestrian Figure(Djenne, possibly Soninke)Mali, Africa, c. 1450 "Figure of a Hornblower." Brooklyn Museum: Arts of Africa:. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. overall, 55.87_view2_SL4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014 "Reliquary Guardian Figure (Eyema-o-Byeri)." Brooklyn Museum: Arts of Africa:. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.overall, 51.3_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007 "Personal Miniature Mask (Ma Go)." Brooklyn Museum: Arts of Africa:. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.image: front, 1995.7.28_front_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011 "Standing Female Figure (Gheonga)." Brooklyn Museum: Arts of Africa:. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. overall, 74.211.6_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007

The purpose or use of this sculpture remains unclear. Scholars have suggested that perhaps the object, with its unusual-shaped base, served as a stopper for a large clay pot or a container made from a big gourd. It also might have been used in ceremonies, as a staff to top a very large pole. Future research may lead to a better understanding of its use. The artist skillfully rendered the rider’s weapons as well; he sports a dagger on his left arm and holds a bow in his left hand, and a cylindrical quiver, supported by straps fastened between his shoulder blades, hangs on his back. These symbols reinforce his status within the court system. The horse could be another emblem of his prestige. The artist might have emphasized the man by enlarging him relative to the horse as a way to communicate the man’s status. (N.p., Brooklyn Museum)
The Edo figure glorifies the spirit of a deceased king, or oba, who ruled the kingdom of Benin at the height of its power. A motif on the figure's kilt depicting an elephant, whose trunk ends in a human right hand, identifies this work with the reign of the oba Esigie, who ruled from 1504 to 1550. (N.p., Brooklyn Museum)
This piece celebrates the female form. While it is not an exact replica of the body, the proportions are relatively balanced. The Yoruba tapper, used with a board to draw images during divinations, was carved with more exaggerated proportions, partly in order to contain it within the functional form of a tapper and the shape of the ivory from which it was carved. (N.p., Brooklyn Museum)
I chose this piece because it tells a narrative of how small, personal masks function as amulets among the Dan and neighboring cultures, linking the owner with a particular spirit force that provides assistance and protection. Normally, they are kept hidden and brought out only during special rituals. When the owner travels, he carries the mask and might occasionally show it to indicate his association with a personal guardian spirit. (N.p., Brooklyn Museum)
This female gheonga figure most likely accompanied a male figure in a Bwiti shrine. A gheonga figure represents an ancestor, who is called upon for assistance with problems. Modern Bwiti incorporates animism, veneration of the ancestors, and elements borrowed from Christianity. (N.p., Brooklyn Museum)
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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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