apah handout 1

apah handout 1 - Anton Lawrendra, Tin Do AP Art History...

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Anton Lawrendra, Tin Do AP Art History Chapter 15 South of the Sahara: Early African Art Overview Africa is a vast continent comprising more than one-fifth of the world’s land mass and many distinct topographical and ecological zones. Parched deserts occupy northern and southern regions, high mountains rise in the east, and three great rivers – the Niger, the Congo, and the Nile – and their lush valleys support agriculture and large settled populations. It is not yet possible to present a coherent, continent-wide history of early African art. A few areas have been fairly well surveyed archaeologically, but most of the continent remains little known in periods prior to European contact, which began along the seacoasts in the late 15th century. Many inland areas were virtually unknown to outsiders between 1850 and 1900. Hundreds of distinct ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups, often but inaccurately called “tribes,” long have inhabited this enormous continent. Currently comprising more than 52 nations, such population groups historically have ranged in size from a few hundred, in hunting and gathering bands, to several million, in kingdoms and empires. Councils of elders often governed smaller groups, whereas larger populations sometimes have joined with other ethnic groups within a centralized state under a king. Kingdoms and empires headed by sacred rulers are known from several parts of Africa from about 1000 CE onward. Within this great variety of African peoples are many shared core beliefs and practices. These include honoring ancestors and worshipping nature deities, often with blood sacrifices, and a tendency to elevate rulers to sacred status. Most peoples also consult diviners or fortune tellers. These beliefs have given rise to many richly expressive art traditions: rock engraving and painting, personal decoration, masquerades and other lavish festivals, the display of court arts and regalia, figural sculpture (often in shrines), elaborate architecture, and domestic arts, among other forms. All the hundreds of ethnic groups in Africa, speaking as many mutually unintelligible languages, made visual arts that differ according to economy, lifestyle, ideology, and the materials available to them.
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Rock engravings and paintings in the Sahara and southern Africa, for example, depict thousands of animals as well as rituals held by the hunting gathering or herding peoples who created most of the art. These nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples also excelled in the arts of personal adornment. Among farmers, in contrast, figural sculpture in terracotta, wood, and metal was often house in shrines to legendary ancestors or nature deities held responsible for the health of crops and the well-being of the people. The regalia, art, and architecture of kings and their courts project ideas of wealth
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apah handout 1 - Anton Lawrendra, Tin Do AP Art History...

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