Art History in Africa: An Introduction to Method by J. Vansina

By J. Vansina

This can be a pioneering advent to a topic that continues to be at an early srage of educational improvement. It goals to supply the reader with a scientific procedure for the historic knowing of African artwork. Professor Vansina considers the medium, strategy, sort and which means of paintings items and examines the artistic approach by which they arrive into being. quite a few images and drawings illustrate his arguments, and aid to give an explanation for the adjustments that experience taken position.

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Use unknow n, except traces o f sacrificial matter. Bandiagara cliffs, M a li. K o n in k lijk Instituut voor de Tropen, Am sterdam . H eight 48cm . Acquired 1973. A lso know n as n o m m o , Tellem. The patina is derived from ash, dried anim al blood and dried m illet gruel or beer. T he date o f m anufacture could be from c. Z). 1000 to 1900. Tellem is used w ith two meanings: a) fo r all pieces before c. 6 . C onfusion results from a label that defines by time period, w hatever the style and genre on the one hand and by genre only on the other.

Inscriptions on monuments provide the closest relationship possible, at least if they are contemporary with the making of the object. If so, the link can hardly be faulted. A piece of Fatimid pottery signed ‘Sa’ad’ (Talbot Rice 1965:92) refers to that pottery, no other. A dated inscribed frieze in a mosque can be a direct indication of the date that mosque was built. In all other cases, documents may refer to other objects than the ones they now are associated with. A sixteenth-century text about a salt cellar in ivory from African cannot automatically be taken to refer to one of the known salt cellars with African features.

N e a rK a b in d a , A ngola. M usee d e U h o m m e . Diam eter 36 Scm; height 20 cm (double the size o fa c h ie f s cap). Before 1933. T he museum, after Tastevin, calls ii a shrine fo rL u su n zi, spirit o f the fish . T he metal objects were strewn around the dome and represented the fish . V olavka (1981b) sees the objects as regalia and the dome as the cro'wn o f the old kingdom o f K ongo. S h e dates the dome to the 13th or 14th c.

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