All the books reviews
Animal Myth and Magic: Images from Pre-Columbian Textiles - (ENGLISH)
Animal Myth and Magic explores the central place and significance of animals in the Andean cosmovision through the prism of South American archaeology, anthropology, natural history, and mythology. Illustrated with 155 marvelous images from pre-Columbian textiles, this unique anthology discusses over forty-five species, from the hummingbird and butterfly to the llama and jaguar. The depictions—from surreal to naturalistic, awe- provoking to whimsical, abstract to totemic—span a diversity of habitats and 2,000 years of culture, from Chavín to Inca.
Anonymous Woodcarvers of the Lobi - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
The sculpture of the Lobi people of Burkina Faso is a fine example of devotional art that is intended for both individual and family use. The rituals surrounding their use are varied and relate to the protection of their owners. The altars on which they stood were located either in homes or in purpose-built sanctuaries, which could be either inside or outside. Altars generally had groups of figures in various poses. The form and gesture of each sculpture carried specific meaning. In artistic terms, Lobi sculpture was long considered crude, due in part to the fact that individuals frequently made these for their own use, which explains the profusion of styles and the large number of figures. Despite this, these statues are frequently made with great sensitivity and care, as the illustrations in this book will testify. The authors have studied the subject for nearly fifteen years and have examined a vast number of examples. They have defined about 120 individual sculptors and ateliers, of which fourteen are specifically addressed in this voluminous and richly illustrated work.
Archaeology in Washington - (ENGLISH)
Archaeology in Washington is an account of post-war excavation projects in Washington State, covering findings dating from as long ago as approximately 12,000 BC. Based on a chronological layout, the book opens with the discovery of greatest age––the Manis Mastodon, excavated in the late 1970s––and works its way through the millennia, concluding with finds from the mid-nineteenth century. Archaeology in Washington not only details the excavation projects and the finds themselves, but also expounds upon their meanings and what clues they offer to the nature of the societies that once occupied the territory that is now Washington. The authors guide the reader through specific excavations from the point of initial discovery (sometimes accidental, other times by deliberate search) through the conclusion, if there is one. They also detail the bureaucracy, environment, routine, and careful patience that is needed to execute such excavations. Covering a great span both temporally and geographically, Archaeology in Washington offers the story of Washington State’s natural and cultural environment over the last 14,000 years.
Archaeology of the Solomon Islands - (ENGLISH)
Archaeology of the Solomon Islands presents the outcome of twenty years’ research in the Solomon Islands undertaken jointly by Richard Walter and Peter Sheppard, both leaders in the field of Pacific archaeology. It draws together the research that has taken place in the field over the past fifty years and takes a multidisciplinary approach to considering the work of archaeologists, environmental scientists, anthropologists, and historians. At the same time this volume highlights the results of the authors’ own considerable field research. Their work also integrates the Solomon Islands into ongoing models and debates around Pacific culturehistory, including in such key areas as human expansion during the Pleistocene, the spread of Austronesians, Lapita colonization, the development of food production, the role of exchange systems, the concept and meaning of culture areas, and human impact on landscapes and ecosystems. The result is a unique and fascinating book, accessibly written, that represents a groundbreaking contribution to Pacific archaeology.
Art and Power in Central Africa. Luba - Songye - Tshokwe - Luluwa - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
Four ethnic groups that are closely linked by their cultures and history—the Luba, Songye, Tshokwe, and Luluwa—inhabit a vast area in the heart of the central African savannah and have produced and used a variety of power objects, many of which were charged with animal, vegetable, or even human substances. These objects served as intermediaries between man and the world of spirits, and were associated with religious beliefs and magical practices. They were believed to have the capacity to heal, protect, render justice, or cause harm. Literature on the subject makes stylistic and functional distinctions between popular art created in the service of religion and court art created to support political power. In this work, the author attempts to demonstrate that, for these four ethnic groups, fusion between the sacred and profane takes shape in refined sculptures, which not only have magical and religious connotations but also relate to principles of power and prestige. With their meticulous anatomical and decorative details, the sculptures appeared at a time when power was being centralized and an elite of high nobility was emerging. This splendid book, illustrated with a remarkable range of iconography, accompanies the eponymous traveling exhibition presently on view at the Menil Collection in Houston.
Art and Power in the Central African Savanna - (ENGLISH)
Art and Power in the Central African Savanna was published to accompany a namesake traveling exhibition organized by The Cleveland Museum of Art (see article in the spring 2009 edition of Tribal Art). The book focuses on four peoples of Central Africa—the Luba, Songye, Chokwe and Luluwa—and their relationship to the power objects that are central to their cosmology and religious practices. Art and Power provides cultural and historical accounts of the peoples and their carvings and provides a broader understanding of the power objects’ importance and meaning. Major sections are devoted to each of the four cultures it covers. It also discusses the change of terminology in the West, as “power object” has gradually replaced the earlier and less accurate “fetish.” The book is beautifully illustrated with photographs and descriptions of the objects included in the exhibition.
Art Dealer in the Last Unknown Ron Perry & New Guinea Art The early years 1964-1973 - (ENGLISH)
This large-format paperback is packed with field photographs and notes made by veteran tribal art dealer Ron Perry and compiled with his wife and companion on many adventures, Carolyn Leigh. This book is the first of three planned and deals with Perry’s early years in New Guinea from 1964 to 1973, when the region was still under Australian administration and the tribal areas were policed by patrol officers, who were often stationed in remote areas for years at a stretch. Perry traveled to hundreds of villages and collected both traditional and transitional art in huge quantities, some of it of museum quality and some hitherto unknown to the Western art world. As the authors rightly point out, many books and papers have been produced on tribal art and collections both in museums and private hands, but seldom have the field collectors written about their own experiences. This book, plus the second volume dealing with the ten years following independence and a third covering their time together collecting on both sides of the island, begins to fill this gap in the literature.
Art in the Many Africas - (ENGLISH)
This brief but interesting book is a fi ne example of what can happen when a small museum works with its community resources to support its initiatives. Opened in 1936, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, undertook a comprehensive examination of collection in 2010 under its new director, Kathleen Jameson. The museum’s African art collection was identifi ed as a good foundation for a broader display. Local art collector Michael Gallis and scholar Herert “Skip” Cole became involved, and loans were secured from Gallis and other collectors to augment the existing material. The result was an African art installation of nearly 100 objects that opened in 2013. Spanning the cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, the high quality of the material may be a pleasant surprise for informed visitors to the galleries.
Art of Africa: From the Gimbala to the Banks of the Congo - (ENGLISH)
This book is both the eighth in a series begun in 1987 titled “Terra Incognita,” and the first in a new series of several volumes. These specialized books enrich the literature on the traditional arts of Africa by filling certain thematic gaps: divination among the Lobi of Burkina Faso, the Poro statuary of the Côte d’Ivoire Senufo, the fertility dolls of the Dowayo of Cameroon, and others. In Art of Africa, the author explores the art from the region between the Gimbala and the banks of the Congo River. This region’s art includes Gimbala bronzes, ivory trumpets, Mende and Sande masks and figures, and the zoomorphic works of the Baule. The book combines ethnographic and art historical approaches. It puts forth an articulate analysis of its subject matter that is illustrated with in situ photographs as well as images of works from European collections often hitherto unseen by the general public. The books in this series are precious reference tools, which will be of interest to connoisseurs and beginners alike.
Art of Being Tuareg Sahara Nomads in a Modern World - (ENGLISH)
With eight scholarly contributors, it is almost redundant to discuss the breadth and depth of this publication. Identity is the core of most of these essays, particularly how it is expressed and maintained through different forums and situations. After an introductory chapter on the history of the Tuareg and the circumstances that have influenced their lifeway, detailed essays explore a variety of subjects. Rich oral and poetic traditions, music, clothing, and personal adornments are all utilized to maintain and express the identity of these people. Inadans—artists and smiths—have a prominent position in this culture and offer both poetry and ornaments to their clients. The poetry can be considered storytelling in verse form, and one chapter offers original language versions along with English translations, recanting both everyday stories and more significant events. The importance of clothing and jewelry, particularly among women, is elaborated upon. The book also discuss the changes in society and culture as external and foreign influences become more prominent. Most chapters are followed by beautiful photo essays, which display details on the art and craft objects previously discussed. The publication accompanies an eponymous exhibition that opens at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles on October 29, 2006, and will be at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford in 2007. Though it is illustrated with objects from the exhibition, it is more of a companion volume than a conventional catalogue.