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365 Days of Art Archive - African collection

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From the African collection.

Kota peoples Reliquary Figure

This reliquary figure is covered with sheets of copper and copper alloy which invest this guardian figure with a shiny “whiteness” that enhances its protective supernatural sight.

From the African collection.

Teke peoples Male power figure

This personal power figure, created to harness the powers of protective ancestral spirits, has a hidden cavity filled with powerful substances that was then covered with additional layers of supernaturally-empowered earth, clay, and vegetal materials.

From the African collection.

Owo Kingdom, Nigeria Head of a Ram Pendant

In Nigeria’s Owo Kingdom, pendants in the form of a horned ram are worn as symbols of leadership and military prowess.

From the African collection.

Yao Peoples, Mozambique/Tanzania Male Ancestral-spirit Mask

This helmet mask depicting an ancestral leader wears an Islamic cap alluding to the power and wealth acquired through trade with Muslims on east Africa’s Swahili coast.

From the African collection.

Asante Peoples, Ghana Royal Stool

This ceremonial stool, richly embellished with strips of silver repoussé, belonged to an Asante queen mother or high-ranking chief.

From the African collection.

Bamileke Chiefdom of Bansoa Cameroon Beaded Throne

The leopards supporting this richly beaded throne symbolized the ruler’s political and supernatural powers.

From the African collection.

Benin Kingdom, Nigeria Palace Plaque of a War Chief

This intricate 17th century brass plaque from Nigeria’s Kingdom of Benin depicts a war chief, resplendent in coral-bead regalia, swearing allegiance to the king.

From the African collection.

Senufo peoples Diviner's figure

This figure, a stylized depiction of Senufo ideals of a mature woman, was created to attract and give human form to a bush spirit who would assist Senufo diviners in communicating with the supernatural world.

From the African collection.

Zulu peoples Beaded Cape

This richly beaded cape, composed of thirteen cloth panels edged with colorful beadwork bands, is the prestigious ceremonial dress of a married Zulu woman.

From the African collection.

Hemba Peoples Male ancester figure

The swelling belly of this bearded male ancestor figure symbolizes the special bond uniting mothers and sons within the matrilineal Hemba culture.

From the African collection.

Dan Peoples Game Board

The gracefully carved head embellishing this game board may represent an idealized portrait of the owner’s favorite wife.

From the African collection.

Baga Peoples, Guinea Shrine Figure Headdress

This shrine figure’s head combines the abstracted features of an ancestor with the beak of a bird, perhaps referring to birds’ role as spiritual messengers.

From the African collection.

Mangbetu peoples Anthropomorphic Vessel

This vessel with its elongated head depicts a Mangbetu woman with the elegant fan-like hairstyle that was fashionable during the early twentieth-century.

From the African collection.

Yoruba Peoples, Nigeria Shrine Door

This elaborately carved door once opened into a shrine dedicated to Shangó, the Yoruba god of thunder, lightening and seasonal rains.

From the African collection.

Yoruba Peoples, Nigeria Twin fgures

These commemorative figures, each an idealized depiction of a deceased twin child as an adult, are honored by ritual feeding and applications of palm oil, camwood powder, and prestigious indigo.

From the African collection.

Woyo Peoples Chief Voania

This figurative vessel was created by Voania, an early twentieth-century Woyo chief and potter who created naturalistic anthropomorphic pots which were sold to European travelers and officials.

From the African collection.

Lulua peoples Maternity association figure

This idealized figure with its shining skin and beautifying scarification was created to attract an ancestral spirit who would safeguard a woman’s pregnancy.

From the African collection.

Mangbetu peoples Anthropomorphic Vessel

This vessel depicts the elegant, elongated head of a bearded Mangbetu man wearing a prestige necklace.

From the African collection.

Baule Peoples, Cote d'Ivoire Mask

This mask, with its balanced, harmonious features and small mouth, expresses the dignity and composure of a chiefly senior woman.

From the African collection.

Djenne culture, Mali Equestrian Figure

This majestic mounted rider, like other earthenware figures from the great trading city of Jenné-Jeno, may have served as a commemorative or devotional ancestral image.

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