VIS 21 questions and answers- study guide

VIS 21 questions and answers- study guide - BENIN in...

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BENIN- in Nigeria, 13/14 th century- present 1 . Why is “primitive” an inappropriate designation for African art? Answer: Primitive is absolutely inappropriate when describing African art mainly because of its negative connotations. People would usually associate primitive with words such as unrefined and mediocre, and these are definitely not what African art is. Africans have always focused more on traditional art instead of contemporary, and the rest of the world tend to have the superior attitude that modern art is more sophisticated than traditional ones. Western viewers have always seen African art with a prejudiced eye, when actually African art is every bit as complex and rich as any western art. The religion of Africa has a long history, and the people worship the creator god as well as the lesser deities. These deities are often portrayed and honored in African ceremonies and through African art. Different from western art, Africans do not put a premium on age and older art does not necessarily make them more valuable. Instead, art is not permanent and a piece of art used for one ceremony may be discarded afterwards because it is no longer of any use. Also instead of making art on canvases and from sculptures, Africans would often use their own body as a canvas and cover themselves with drawings and other adornments in preparation for a ceremony. They believe that turning their human flesh into art will bring them closer to the spirits and deities. So even though African art is different from the contemporary ones we see today, it is every bit as intricate and intense as anything seen today. In this way, it would be very wrong to name African art as primitive because non- western art is in no way unrefined. African art have often been designated as being “primitive” by westerners because those viewers have the superior idea that only modern, mainstream art is considered refined and anything else would be primitive. Which is not true! 9/26 2. Discuss the roles of the oba and queen mother in Benin. Compare/contrast their memorial brass heads. Explain the significance of iconography Both the oba and the queen have very high positions and power within the benin population. The oba is the king of the city and the absolute ruler of the kingdom and no one else may rise above him. It is his job to solve problems of his people and to settle public disputes and to keep diplomatic relations with foreign countries. He is thought of and looked up upon as the king of the land and the people believe that the deities spread their power and blessings through the king. For this reason, the king is often adorned with precious objects that the edo believe will allow the king to tap into the spiritual power, or the Ase, of the mighty gods. The queen mother also has a very important spiritual and political role within the edo community. Since the oba is thought of as being a holy being, the queen mother is also respected on a spiritual level because she conceived that spiritual being and carried him in her womb for 10 months. She also was the first to
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