The Art of Tribal Beliefs – Behind the scenes of tribal art
African tribal art is largely motivated by religion and faith. In Africa there is usually no art for the sake of art, but for ritual.
Although in recent years western trends have taken root in Africa and their influence on culture is growing, African masks and many African statues are still being created in an authentic and unique way by artists who learn their art from father to son and represent the small tribes dispersed over this huge continent.
In the past few years, the use of natural materials has grown in the design world, according to which a large part of the home design today is making choices in natural, recycled and organic materials. Therefore, when choosing an African mask or sculpture offered for sale, to help suit the styling of your home, it is important to know the materials and styles from which these unique pieces of art are made of. The African statues and masks that are displayed in “Tribal Arts and Culture” Gallery, have been hand selected from different parts of Africa. Many African statues in the Tribal Arts and Culture Gallery are made of wood, bark and beads, coconut shells and even textiles such as pieces of cloth and jute. There are statues on which colored sand is glued and sometimes parts of a real animal like butterfly wings.
See, for example, the sculpture “Communication with Other Worlds”, which comes to us from Burkina Faso and is offered for purchase on the Tribal Art and Culture website. It is a masked statue of a sorcerer. The lower head is painted entirely in white, the color that symbolizes the connection to the ancestors and the gods. His mouth is open and hollow as a symbol of the important messages he is able to convey. His eyes stand out as a symbol of his ability to see beyond reality and in the middle of the forehead there is a carved row of stairs ascending as a symbol of his ability to communicate with the world beyond. Above his head, three heads are joined by their hands, their mouths open, their eyes protruding as a symbol of union with the ancestors. If you look at the head of the statue, you will see the wonderful feathers that stand there as a symbol of holiday and joy. Imagine a significant statue with such a presence in your living room, and what statement it has.
From the Nature and the Environment
This is just one example of how one African artist uses materials taken from nature and the environment.They include wood, plant fibers, seeds, sheepskin and clay. The artist can choose materials that are expensive like ivory or as simple as ropes and straw. The wood used by the African artist is usually taken from the coconut tree. The selection of the material is determined by the character of the African sculpture or mask and its structure. The techniques in creating this art include carving, abrasives and engraving. All of these are carefully chosen and applied to create the perfect African mask.
“The Crown of Femininity” is an example of an African sculpture offered for sale in our Tribal Art and Culture Gallery. This is a Guinean statue, with a crown in the shape of a woman’s face typical of the Yoruba tribe. Here the woman is small, her lips narrow, her nose narrow and long, and her eyes and ears are small. The statue itself is placed on a straw arch tied and fastened with ropes, at the top of the crown there are two circles topped by another woman’s face that looks up to the sky. It is customary to put the statue on a woman’s head and bless for fertility.In various parts of Africa, braiding is common and is really an art in itself. During dry periods in the fields the artists use leaves, banana trees and variety of weeds in various techniques. Sometimes nails, strings made of beads or shells, animal teeth, clothing and various objects are added to the statues.
Overall, one can say that the that the African statue combines naturalistic elements, along with abstract forms filled with faith and religion. The African statues and African masks in our Tribal Art and Culture Gallery will usually be carved from tree trunks or branches, and will be static and symmetrical, yet full of hidden and profound meanings.