Africa is the second-largest and second-most-populous continent. It is a land inhabiting diverse groups of people, contributing to its rich and exuberant history of arts and culture. The arts and culture of a region tell the tales of the struggles, joys, and growth of the people residing there. Learning about the art and culture of a region is the best way to understand its people and their values as it transitions you through history and helps you understand the present norms.
African art is known for visual abstraction. Those who have an eye for varied art forms and are impartial towards distinct cultures can feel the true essence of African art and culture, which is an exotic gold mine.
Here are some interesting elements of African art and culture that will make you fall in love with this wonderful land of wild nature.
Key Elements Of African Art And Culture To Fall In Love With
1. Masks And Sculptures
Sculptures and masks are traditional West African art. These sculptures and masks are symbolic and are unique to different African tribes. The most abundant masks are of animals which are believed to connect humans to the world of spirits. These masks are made of materials such as wood, metal, brass, and beads. They are usually worn on a specific occasion, such as at a funeral, a wedding, or a religious festival.
The first-ever African sculptures discovered were from Nok culture in 500 BCE. They were made up of terracotta in human and animal forms. They serve different purposes such as protection from evil spirits, bringing prosperity, staving off natural calamities, etc. These are made up of clay, wood, bronze, ivory, and other metals. Modern sculptural art is greatly influenced by African sculptures.
2. Performing Arts
In Africa, performance art is a wide discipline to study as it not only includes the usual music, dance, and theatre but is diverse and classified into traditional and contemporary performing arts. Storytelling and expressionism are the defining features of African performing arts. To celebrate the happy times, communities come together to express their joy by dancing and singing in vibrant and distinctive outfits. Likewise, in times of grief, the people share each other’s pain by mourning and performing striking acts. Street dances are also a big fad in Africa.
3. Social And Moral Values
The social values of a society preserve its peace. Social and moral values in Africa are held in a high place. These social norms are influenced by different religions as well. Africans hold truthfulness, respect for elders, hospitality, hard work, and good character in prime importance. Acts of immorality like adultery, stealing, deceiving, and killing are highly discouraged, and the perpetrators are held accountable according to the traditional methods. One such example is when a person is caught stealing; they are stripped naked and forced to carry the stolen item through the streets with charcoal rubbed all over their body.