This page is a record of an exhibit that took place
in 1998-99. The individual links below will take you to
the CURRENT VERSION of the pages
that formed part of that exhibit.
Royal Arts of Africa shows traditional work from the most historic tribal civilizations, the major kingdoms of Africa. Throughout centuries their art enhanced royal prestige, validated royal popwer and commemorated past and present rulers. Cultures and lineages that survive for up to nine centuries deserve our special notice and respect.
The largest collection appropriately are the cast bronze works from Benin City, now part of Nigeria. Our pieces are all since the sacknig of the palace by the British in 1897 and include plaques, which were formerly mounted on the walls of the palace of the oba, or king, and recorded the history of the kingdom. Bronze figures or heads of the king or his attendants, varying in size, were displayed on ancestral altars. Leopards, signifying and restricted to royalty, were used for water vessels. Belt and hip oirnaments, bells and other artifacts, plus some museum casts of 17th C. masterpieces, complete the Benin selections. Yoruba crowns and artifacts from the related Yoruba culture are also included.
The Fon people, of the Rep. of Benin had iron and brass "asen" staffs commemorating kings which were displayed in royal compounds, validating their authority and lineage. Small figural groups of ther kings with attendants adorn the top round platforms. Asante royalty, from Ghana, use stools, chairs, staffs, kente cloth and other artifacts to support the monarchy.
The Cameroon Grassfields is organized into many kingdoms with rulers, or Fon, in inherited offices. Their art reflected the wealth , power and prestige of thew king and the royal family during leadership ceremonies. The Bangwa have expressive memorial ancestor figures that legitimized the dynasty. Flat masks of the Kom, large Bamun headdresses, Bali elephant and Bamileke buffalo masks all were symbols of priviledge and authority and served as royal icons.
From the Demo. Rep. of Congo comes the old Kuba kingdom, with "Ndop" portrait figures and their royal triad of masks. The Luba kingdom is wekk known for its prestige stoo;s, where a ruler is literally as well as figuratively supported by a female caryatid figure. TRhe art justifies and helps to perpetruate the traditional rulers and, reciprocally, these dynasties have created and preserved some of the most eduring and timeless images of Africa.
Royal Arts of Africa is open June 3 - July 31, and also Sept. 1 - 25, 1999. We will be installing on Tues. and Weds., June 1 - 2; feel free to stop by. To celebrate the new show and welcome you, we are having an Opening Party Sat. June 5, from 12-4. Please note that we are closed during August except by appt.