African Artwork Gallery

The Museum’s African collection originated with presents from the Hanes household starting in the Nineteen Seventies, primarily historic material from the 19th and 20th centuries, together with important items from the Benin Kingdom such as the Altar to the Hand Later acquisitions expanded regional protection to include different elements of sub-Saharan Africa with an eye towards assembling works that demonstrated a particular cultural fashion, similar to those of the Chokwe and Luba peoples of central Africa. The Senufo of northern Côte d’Ivoire produce a rich variety of sculptures, primarily associated with Poro, a society guided by a feminine ancestral spirit often called the Historic Mother.” All adult Senufo males belong to Poro , and the society maintains the continuity of spiritual and historic traditions.

Fulfilling purely secular features are bowls for kola nuts, provided in welcoming a visitor; ayo boards for the game, recognized also as wari, played with seeds or pebbles in two rows of cuplike depressions; and stools, spoons, combs, and heddle pulleys.

The research of and response to African art, by artists originally of the twentieth century facilitated an explosion of curiosity in the abstraction, organisation and reorganisation of kinds, and the exploration of emotional and psychological areas hitherto unseen in Western artwork.

Excavations at Ife, in central Yorubaland (the site of the creation of the world in some Yoruba myths), have proven that naturalistic sculpture in brass and pottery was being produced sometime between 1100 and 1450 ce. The sculptures might represent royal figures and their attendants, and life-size portrait heads in brass were maybe used as part of funerary effigies.

West African cultures developed bronze casting for reliefs, like the well-known Benin Bronzes , to brighten palaces and for extremely naturalistic royal heads from across the Bini town of Benin Metropolis, Edo State , in terracotta as well as metallic, from the twelfth-14th centuries.