All the books reviews
De Lunda en de Tshokwe van Shaba - (Dutch)
Today, most people who are interested in African art are familiar with the Katanga region (now called Shaba) and its copper mines, which are located near the center of the Congo. However, the same cannot be said of the region to the west, which is far less known and which, until the first vague mentions of the Dilolo, the Sando, and the Kanzenze long remained a blank area on the map of the Congo. It was in this monotonous savanna that the great Lunda Empire first flourished, eventually extending into Zambia and Angola before being nearly wiped out by the Tshokwe at the end of the nineteenth century. Based on research conducted over ten years by the author, this book is the first to look into this particular area of the Congo. It offers insight into the lifestyles, the cultures, and the rituals and beliefs of the peoples who settled there. The final chapter is devoted exclusively to their artistic traditions. This work is based on a study of the archives of the Friars Minor (Minderbroeders) of Sint-Truiden in Belgium, a precious resource that was compiled with care and includes an intriguing corpus of field photographs taken between 1920 and 1950.
Discovering North American Rock Art - (ENGLISH)
Native American rock art is found in remarkable variety throughout North America and this book examines the art form thoroughly. From the high plains of Canada to the Central Mississippi River Valley to the Southeastern United States, this compelling art form consists of both paintings and engravings. This academic book illuminates a number of different approaches to its study and provides valuable documentation of the ancient Native American past. It also discusses differences in methodology between the United States and France. The latter considers rock art an essential aspect of archeological research, whereas in the United States it has largely been relegated as a footnote in the larger picture. This book is a significant contribution toward expanding awareness about this fascinating subject.
Dowayo, Namchi, Poupées du Cameroun. Les Dowayo et Leur Culte - (FRENCH)
In the wake of Lobi, Sénoufo and Bundu, German publisher Burkhard Gottschalk has come out with a new work in the Africa Incognita series, the first of its kind devoted entirely to the cult of the Doyayo of Cameroon, and particularly to the well-known namchi fertility dolls that they produce. The book is illustrated with numerous vintage photos in black and white, as well as with color plates of dolls, weapons, ritual objects and utilitarian objects. It thoroughly examines the culture and arts of this small group of farmers and herders, who number only a few thousand. Doyayo villages are carved into steep and inaccessible slopes and resemble impenetrable fortresses, hidden behind trees and monumental stones. Never conquered, even by Islamic invasions, the Doyayo developed what Frobenius described as an "antagonistic and violent" nature. Reticent to make outside contact, and fiercely attached to their traditions, the Doyayo have until now retained their ancestral religion, in which cults relating to death and skulls,the pitcher ceremony, and the sacred tree play a central part. A third of the book is devoted to the fertility dolls carried on the backs of women as living babies would be, and to the less elaborate play-dolls of young girls. This work will be a valuable reference for these objects, which appeared on the African art market only some twenty years ago.
Drumming to Forget - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
This book is devoted to the Ankave, a cultural group occuping a high forest valley in the deep interior of Papua New Guinea. Briefly contacted by oil explorers in 1938 and then by Australian colonials in 1953, the Ankave were deemed “pacified” at the end of the 1960s and currently live without any Western infrastructure or commerce with the outside world. This work covers many aspects of the daily life of the Ankave, including their semi-nomadic lifestyle, horticulture, eating habits, and matrimonial traditions, as well as more exceptional events such as mourning ceremonies, male initiation rites, and the influence of the Christian church and the advent of literacy. The book’s 126 well-described photographs, taken by the authors between 1982 and the present, offer no sensational images but strive to present a more realistic view of Ankave society, and Papuan society in general, than Western interpretation generally allows us to imagine.
Du fleuve Niger au fleuve Congo: An Africain Adventure - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
Claude-Henri Pirat reveals here the great sculpture of West and Central Africa as well as more ordinary objects that he has collected over many years. An ardent traveller, he has regularly visited the African continent even in the most remote areas and this book contains many photos taken on these trips. Following the foreword of Anne-Marie Bouttiaux and the preface of François Neyt, all the texts, including the ethnographic ones are by the author. To this, is added an original photographic work the author has decided to undertake himself concerning the works of art presented here, with the aim of reviving the elegant black and white sobriety.
Du Jourdain au Congo. Art et christianisme en Afrique centrale - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
The catalog for the eponymous exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, which was the subject of an in-depth article in our spring 2017 edition (http://www.tribalartmagazine.com/issue-83-sample-4), this book is a remarkable synthesis of the five-century history of contact the various populations of Central Africa had with Christianity and the spreading of the faith through missionary activity and liturgical objects. The latter notably include the crucifix and representations of Mary and the saints that gave rise to rich and varied local reinterpretations.
Dynasty and Divinity : lfe Art in Ancient Nigeria - (ENGLISH)
Dynasty and Divinity was published to accompany the internationally traveling namesake exhibition (see article in Tribal Art, Autumn 2009) that showcases a wealth of Ife art from Nigeria. The catalogue beautifully illustrates this intricate and valuable legacy dating from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries and is complemented by two highly informative essays, one detailing the exhibition itself and the other examining ancient Yoruba art. Dynasty and Divinity offers an in-depth look at the art, history, and culture of these Nigerian peoples and represents a fine substitute for those unable to visit the exhibition itself. Dynasty and Divinity will have its first U.S. stop at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston this September.
D’un regard l’Autre. Histoire des regards européens sur l’Afrique, l’Amérique et l’Océanie - (FRENCH)
Conceived primarily as a record of the exhibition of the same title (see TRIBAL, winter 2006, pp. 58–62), this magnificent catalogue outlines key artistic and historic aspects of its theme and provides the reader with detailed information on works that are rarely published or exhibited in this context. Accompanied by rich illustrations, the text by art historians and anthropologists reflects upon the inter- disciplinary nature of the show. By referencing the images of the objects, they provide an opportunity for the reader to explore the question of the perspective upon and comprehension of the Other.
D’un regard l’Autre. Photographies du XIXe siècle - (FRENCH)
One of the strong points of the superb exhibition D’un regard l’Autre is a group of 120 photographs, most previously unpublished, which can be seen in this book. Using the breadth of these portraits and landscapes, most dating from the nineteenth century, the authors offer a reassessment of the use of photography. The clichés in these works transcend their aesthetic value and express telling information about the perceptions of the photographers and their intended audiences. The simple truth that they express throws light on concepts of the “other” and the approach to non-Western cultures by Europeans.
Early Art of the Southeastern Indians: Feathered Serpents & Winged Beings - (ENGLISH)
Presenting artifacts originating in the Archaic through the Mississippian periods—from thousands of years ago through A.D. 1600—this work features an extraordinary assortment of ceremonial and functional objects, including pipes, vessels, figurines, and much more. These remarkable pieces are drawn from every corner of the American Southeast, from Louisiana to the Ohio River Valley, and from Florida to Oklahoma. Many of these works were linked to male (and sometimes female) leadership, and associated with such major ceremonial centers as Etowah, Georgia; Spiro, Oklahoma; Cahokia, Illinois; and Moundville, Alabama. Some of these pieces are well known, such as the lovely mica hand from the Hopewell site (200 B.C.–A.D. 400) in Ohio. Many others are more obscure but deserve far greater attention on the world stage of art, such as an incredible wolf mask from the Key Marco site (A.D. 1000) in Florida. Power’s text is lucid and informative, but it is a pity that so many of these masterpieces are illustrated in murky black and white. Though they deserve better, it is still a rare treat to see them.