The charisma of the African sculptures

November 4th, 2012

The south of Sahara, the Africans cannot be distinguished from art. They have incorporated it every wake of their life starting from their dialogue, commuting with the spirits, the gods to the form of physical therapy. Naming the African art form as rich is just a name game. Their history treads back to 500 B.C., in the womb of nature and populous African country, Nigeria. As an art form, the ancient African sculptures were the first to be unearthed from the economic powerhouse of the continent. Along with these African masks and figures, many potteries were used in various religious ceremonies. Wood constitutes the main material for their art, which later flaunted with clay, feathers, ivory, metals, shells etc.

Though the entire continent is inclined to the making of African art sculptures, the western and central part of Africa take away the credit of the indigenous art. There are various forms of the cultural art as the history is a proof that it is a contribution of various tribes, but the abstract carving on wood is takes away the prize. The Nigerian people are well known for the human statues made of terracotta whereas the Cameroon grasslands call for the bold woodcarvings as masks and decorative textiles.

The explosion of the tradition especially the African art sculptures on to the international platform goes back to the 19th century when many archeologists discovered the bronze sculptures. These African sculptures are called as the Benin Bronzes, and they have inspired and uplifted many a man towards their royal patronage. Though they had a few materials as a necessity, today, these sculptures are made from various durable materials.

The reign of the human form

The human form as a way of art has always instigated the Africans in both live and dead. The souls of the hunters, chiefs especially are expressed in an abstract way to give a 3D effect. Some also used the same expression to give an anthropomorphic form of the god. The bronze and brass were used to represent realistic busts and were believed to be attractive and durable.

The significance of the Benin Bronzes with the European work

The Benin bronze art are believed to be the pioneer to many noteworthy artists. For example, the Auguste Rodin, the creator of the ‘The Thinker’ and who can forget Donatello and his famous David. The Benin Bronzes has an impact even over the creation of many remarkable artists. From Michelangelo’s ‘La Pieta’ to Pablo Picasso’s work, everyone has a hint from the famous African art sculptures

The modern day African sculptures

Though the ancient African sculptures would always be in a la mode, but the contemporary artists are going in vain. They are following the steps of their predecessor with fancy figurines, animals in action and the bronze nudes, which are mainly famous cause of the proportionate body.

The history of the African art influenced the artists worldwide with their aesthetic value and the qualities of them today still are inspiriting everyone day by day.

Video on African Art Sculptures – Click Here

Djembe and the Importance it Holds to Ghanaian and African Culture

September 13th, 2012

The Djembe is a drum that has a rich history and importance towards Ghanaian and African culture.

But first of all, let us look at the Djembe through its physical attributes. The Djembe is a drum that is played with the bare hands. It is rope-tuned and skin covered. It has a shell (or a body if you will) that is carved out of hardwood and a drumhead that is made out of untreated goatskin. However, Djembe drums are not limited to these materials upon manufacturing. They can be made from a wide array of other ingredients for performers to play different sounds according to their liking.

The origin of the Djembe can be traced back to the Numu. They are associated with the Mandika people, specifically their class of blacksmiths. The Djembe drum’s wide dispersion throughout Africa may be the cause of the many migrations of the Numu. As such, the drums’ popularity became known throughout the continent. 

Although the origins of these bongo drums came from the Numu, there are no restrictions in using it. Such cause calls for rejoice as the Djembe drums are different from many, more restricted instruments that can be found in Africa. Therefore, just about anyone who is interested in playing it can do so.

Furthermore, due to the Numu’s many migrations, the Djembe African drums can now be played by Ghanaian people.

The Djembe drums are an integral part of Ghanaian, and most importantly the entire African culture. Playing with the African percussion instrument has a great purpose to affairs, festivals, and ceremonies. The rhythms created by the instrument are only to be played at a certain time and only for certain reasons.

For example, playing the African bongo drums can play a major role when a person rises into the age of adulthood. It can also take on a significant part on marriages or when there is an event wherein there is a need to honour the deeds by professions or other groups of people.

Unlike instruments that are played in an orchestra or in a band, playing the Djembe drums is not performed in front of an audience but with the participation of the entire village. This allows the people to participate in the event or the ceremony.

Now even if it would seem that the same rhythm can be played for hours and hours on end, there will be other interactions that take place along with the drumming. For instance, dancers from the village can challenge Djembe drummers to mark and keep up with their dance moves. There are even ballets and ensembles wherein these drums play a major role for the performance.

The Djembe drums are a very cultural musical instrument that is not limited to a small number of African locales. These drums can now also be seen in Western continents where they pay tribute to our African brothers and take part of their own ceremonies and affairs with the use of these African bongo drums.

Video on the Djembe Drum in African Culture – Click Here

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Adinkra Symbols and Their Hidden Meaning

August 27th, 2012

Adinkra symbols can be traced back to their origins of the Asante people of Ghana, West Africa. Created by the Akan of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d’Ivorie (Ivory Coast), they developed these symbols based on history, philosophy and certain religious beliefs. Today they are widely used to give definitive meanings and messages through a wide range of different products, including jewellery, Adinkra cloths, clothing and even architecture.

The meaning of Ghanaian Adikra symbolism in African jewellery was portrayed through the Asante people in the 19th century, when they developed the unique art of Adinkra printing. Creating hand made cloths through a special process, these cloths were made exclusively for both spiritual leaders and royalty. As time has gone on, these African tribal symbols have been used for other special occasions, such as weddings, initiation rites, festivals and naming ceremonies.

The Asante have further developed the Adinkra symbology over time, with their own folk-tales and culture influencing the symbols created. Now incorporated into modern culture and designs, the meaning of Ghanaian Adikra symbolism in African jewellery and other items gives added significance to products, such as sculptures, african jewellery and clothing.

Traditionally they were hand printed of certain colours of hand-woven cotton, red, dark brown or black were the most common used. In modern times they have been frequently mass produced on a wide range of brighter coloured fabrics.

Some of the most commonly found Adinkra symbols include:

GYE NYAME – “except for God” – symbol of the supremacy of God

SANKOFA – “return and get it” – symbol of importance of learning from the past

FUNTUNFUNEFU- DENKYEMFUNEFU – “Siamese crocodiles” – symbol of democracy and unity

DENKYEM – “crocodile” – symbol of adaptability

DWENNIMMEN – “ram’s horns” – symbol of humility together with strength

Although, the Akindra symbols are now used by many other people, not just exclusively by religious leaders and royalty, the symbols themselves still have significant meanings to the people that use them. Both African jewellery for men and African jewellery for women exist, when worn they hold deep meanings and often have underlying philosophies behind them. African tribal jewellery has become more popular as time has gone on, now widely available, the symbols used can be traced right back to the history of African jewellery and the original Akindra symbols.

African tribal jewellery is available from a number of different stores, both online and in person. There are plenty of resources where you can research and learn about the different Adinkra symbols available in African jewellery, therefore allowing you to know which one is right for you. Go into your local store and talk to someone, or use one of the many search engines to discover more information. Before making a purchase, research which symbol matches your lifestyle, beliefs and personal philosophies.

Even though it has been many years since the symbols were first created, the meaning of Ghanaian Adinkra symbols in African Jewelry is still alive today and can be seen all over the world.

Video on the Adinkra Symbols in African Jewelry and Fashion – Click Here

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The stories that the kente scarf and the meaning of the patterns have to tell

August 23rd, 2012

Kente cloth scarf was considered sacred in the past and only worn during royal occasions, but now it has spread worldwide and worn by everyone. Since the authentic African scarf is still expensive, only the rich people in Africa mostly wear it. The authentic pieces are weaved with pure silk and the rather economic ones are made of cotton. The cheapest kente clothes are the ones of rayon to make it more accessible to the general.

The history

The Ashanti kingdom of Ghana is believed to be the inventor of the Kente cloth. The archaeological evidences say that this happened in the early 17th century and the weaving tradition must have existed back even in the 11th century. The people of the Ashanti region are still the main manufactured of the cloth.

Symbolism of the colours present in a kente cloth scarf

  • The darkest colour black signifies maturity with spiritual energy.

  • The blue represents peace, love and harmony.

  • The green is for vegetation and harvesting growth.

  • The gold for royalty and glory

  • Grey symbolizes healing, as the colour is associated with ash.

  • Maroon is the colour of earth and linked to spiritual healing.

  • The female essence is the colour pink whereas purple represents the feminine aspects.

  • The red is for bloodshed and sacrifices.

  • Silver and white rejoice purity and joy.

  • Yellow denoted the royalty and fertility.

The kente scarf and the meaning of the patterns

As already mentioned, the Ashanti people of Ghana are the creators of the scarves and the symbols too, known as the Adinkra symbols. Hence, the scarves are referred to as the Adinkra cloths. The meanings derived from proverbs, beliefs, concepts etc., are used there even today. These not only form as an accessory but as a home decor too. Some symbols with their meanings are below:

Gye nyame signifies the dominance of the almighty and is the most beautiful symbol of the region. As unique as it is, it is a pure reflection of the religious character worshipped deeply the people. Adinkrahene is the chief of the adinkra symbols and signifies greatness, leadership and charisma. Hye Won Hye that literally means the one, which does not burn, is a symbol of endurance. This has derived from the stories where traditional priests used to walk on fire without burning their feet. Obi Nkye Obi Kwan Mu Si greatly implements the meaning that nobody is perfect in this world. Everyone makes mistakes and that they should be forgiven.

Asonawo Ahahamono Emaa Da represents one of the seven families of the Ashanti social league. Fathia Fata Nkrumah represents the unity of the African people. Here, Fathis was the charming Egyptian women who got married to Nkrumah, the president of the Republic of Ghana. Abusua Ye Dom celebrates the birth of newborn, the extended family and the well-being of others.

Adinkra clothes are not only attractive but the cultural reference is so interesting and important to the people. The representations of proverbs, stories, thoughts been beautifully expressed through the African scarf. Understandable or not, for the world unknown, it is definitely a magnificent creation.

Video on the Kente Scarf – Click Here

A New Way of Clicking – African Clicking

November 25th, 2011

There is no limit to the wonderfulness of African art. Seriously, there’s so much to it you don’t exactly know where to get started. First things to pop on your mind are masks, artifacts, history, aesthetics, meanings, sculptures and all that jazz.? Surely, nothing compares to reading about the African traditions in a peaceful library, or browsing lovely pictures of an art catalog in the comfort of your own living room, or on the contrary, visiting a museum and take a sip of art in the middle of other people contemplating what used to be once vivid elements of a beautiful culture. Regarding the “used-to-be” phrase up there.. noticed how generally tend to refer to other populations on far away continents as possessing a past that we’d like to learn more about? I get the feeling that somewhere along the road, we fail to know more, if at all, about the current state-of-art and its magnificent artists that are creating yesterday’s cup of beauty.

It is of great importance, to get to see up to date art, have it right on your screen, neatly organized, unveiling before your eyes as you wish, how you wish it. Everything is digital nowadays, even more digital than ever before. It doesn’t take time to browse and read, to click and watch random things on the Internet, but it is likely to run out of patience once you decide for a more advanced search and try to go only for the relevant bucket of information. That is why you need to find websites that come to the rescue. Presenting quality photography, film, illustrations, music, painting, graphic design, animation and quite frankly, the list goes endless.

The diversity of the fields involved is quite overwhelming at first, because you come to realize there is so much you’ve been missing out on, that you’d like to check out each and every little thing posted yesterday, and two years ago. That, especially if you are completely new to this, but it proves to be just as engaging even if you are already in touch with this domain.

But once you get familiar with this type of art, you will love to keep connected. Like thousands of fans that regularly follow updates online, fresh out of the oven, and contribute every now and then with links of their own, to bring more enjoyable things to watch and read inside the community. So much for praising the fun you can have browsing. There’s an African saying from Ghana that goes something like this: “No one can corrupt you unless you are corrupt.”.

Nothing can make you try something new, unless you wanted to try it in the first place, but come to think of it there’s always a thin line between instinct and impulse, isn’t it?

Now I’ll leave you to whatever was filling your day 5 minutes ago, I’m off reading an article about Kinshasa Symphony, because apparently, in Congo, there is an orchestra of two hundred musicians playing Beethoven Ninth.

A Brief Overview of African Art

August 2nd, 2011

Authentic pieces of African art can be extremely diverse. However, there are often common themes and features which can be seen to appear within artwork from Africa – here is a quick guide to just a few of them.

Firstly, it should be noted that there is a huge focus on the humour figure within many different types of African art. Different figures and people have long been the primary theme within African art, although the merging of human and animal bodies is also not uncommon. This element can be seen to have had a huge influence of a number of European artists.

African art was also one of the first examples of artwork which incorporated the use of gems and precious stones. This is another element which can be seen to have been replicated in artwork across the world, right up until the modern era. Previously, western art was largely in thrall to classical influences, until Picasso and 20th century artists began to see inspiration in African art. Although it might be difficult to see how contemporary artists and sculptors, like Louise Bourgeois, or modern-day jewellers, such as 77 Diamonds, have been shaped by such influences, many of their European predecessors almost certainly would have been. This can also be seen as a product of the fact that African artists tend to favour sculptures, over two-dimensional pieces.

Within these three-dimensional works, African art is often relatively abstract, especially when it comes to scale and proportion. More often than not, African artwork does not follow a precise scale, providing more of an abstract representation of the people or scenes depicted. This quality is often considered to be similar to that of Ancient Egyptian artwork, which also avoided naturalistic features and styles.

In addition to this, African art is also heavily influenced by its practical uses. Many African works are specifically created for various types of ‘performance’, such as heavily decorated masks and robes which would usually be worn within a ceremonial context.

A Look at African Arts by Country

July 10th, 2011

One of the most interesting aspects of African art is how powerfully it varies among regions.  For example, African tribes from Cote d’Ivoire often focus on making art through wood-carving and rarely focus on other techniques such as painting or music.  This is because a great part of these tribes’ tradition revolves around the idea of masks as sacred representations and manifestations of deity.  Because these people believe that the wooden masks they create are crucial for their religious practices, it’s pretty obvious as to why they would focus on wood for all of their art.

Another interesting type of African art is that of the Dogon tribe.  Again, the Dogon tribe’s art originates more in their religious tradition, and as a result, it is heavily influenced by religious thought. Dogon art is primarily seen through sculpture. These sculptures are bold and use lots of powerful and readily apparent shapes and angles in their work.  Until recently, it was considered taboo for the layperson to even view many of these religious sculptures. While a great resurgence in anthropological interest has led to rediscoveries of many religious sculptures, in many cases the exact process by which the sculpture was made and any additional consecrations bestowed upon it once it was completed are entirely unknown.  While anthropologists are still studying these forms of art, it may very well remain a mystery.

The most immediately apparent and commonly thought of form of art is of African practical art, such as woven baskets or small jewelry items, but these really show up primarily in Kenya.  Kenyan art focuses on more practical (and less religious in nature) forms of art, including highly stylized clothing in addition to jewelry and tools such as baskets.  This art is most associated with African culture and is definitely the most easily recognizable of any form of African art.  This might be because while many other cultures have art forms such as sculpture or woodworking, Kenyan usage of tools as art stands out in comparison.

Looking at African art by region leads to some interesting conclusions because one can see significant differences in the art style of the region.  This helps to underlie the important geological differences that exist between African countries – consider, for instance, the jungles of Southern Africa when compared to Egypt’s location in the Sahara desert.  Hopefully, this short primer on African art and its importance by location will help you to consider how strongly the geographical differences of a region may influence its culture.

A primer to symbolism in African art

June 18th, 2011

African art is renowned for being both beautiful and meaningful.  Because art has always been a primary means to express ideas and culture in African society, a proper understanding of symbolism is key to understanding African art and culture.  One of the most readily apparent symbols that recurs in African art is the use of animals as symbols of particular ideas or emotions.  Animals are a great place to start because they’re very easily noticeable to even the most casual of viewers and they still manage to hold strong and interesting connotations and descriptions.

One of the animals most readily called to mind when a person thinks of Africa is that of a lion.  Lions, to most people, are associated with ideas such as courage and power.  While this is certainly true in African art as well, it’s not quite that simple.  African artists observed the lazy tendencies of male lions and felt that this greatly expanded upon the type of power that a lion possesses.  Because lions are able to be so powerful while spending their day-to-day lives in a very casual manner, African artists felt that lions also symbolized pride, rightful authority and royalty, and strength and protection.  However, another key concept of African culture and art is the concept of duality.  Unlike many Western traditions, Africans do not favor the idea of good versus evil, but instead see each thing that exists in the universe as a duality of both positive and negative aspects.  As a result, the lion can be associated as the benevolent, relaxed, but calmly powerful ruler, or as arrogant, lazy, or as a bully that uses his strength to enforce unreasonable demands.


To contrast with the complex symbols that surround the lion is the image of the leopard.  The leopard holds a similar place in African art, but is a lot less of a hassle.  Leopards are always associated with viciousness and aggression as well as the idea of courage.  As a result, one could view a leopard as the active and angry side of a lion.  Also, keep in mind the idea of duality!  Seeing the image of a leopard in a work of African art may inspire the viewer to think of hostile and aggressive tendencies, but it could even represent bold, fearless courage; imagine using a leopard to represent how powerfully a mother wishes to protect their child, for instance.  The leopard is a very distinct and powerful symbol in African art because it represents the most pure form of brutal force.

The third most common animal to be featured in African art is the elephant.  One obvious reason for the elephant’s consistent use as a symbol is that it’s overwhelmingly noticeable and distinguishable from other pieces of the artwork.  Additionally, elephants were historically used by some rulers of African nations as a means of transportation for the royalty.  Partially because of this fact, the elephant often represents royalty or dignity. Because of the long age and careful attitude toward learning that an elephant depicts, elephants also often represent dignity, patience, and intellectualism.  Duality can apply to an elephant by either showing a person who is cautious, considerate, and noble-spirited or a person who is lazy, pompous, or too preoccupied with scholarly pursuits to actually enjoy the real world.  Generally speaking, the elephant is used in its positive aspect, where it can enjoy a unique status as a symbol of power through wisdom, in contrast to the strength of creatures such as the lion.


While African art is incredibly, almost frustratingly diverse in its use of images, patterns, and symbols, animals tend to hold to a fairly consistent set of emotions and associations.  This makes them a great starting point for a viewer to understand the emotional context of a scene.  Despite this, one must keep in mind the African idea of duality and remember that there is no such thing as pure good or evil in African ways of thought.

African Safari Decor – 8 Ways To Turn A Room Into An African Jungle

April 7th, 2009

Here’s a novel idea! For those who can’t make it to the wilds of Africa and experience a safari first hand, how about bringing the safari right to your home.

The popularity of African safari decor has been literally exploding in the past few years and has become a very popular form of decoration for children’s rooms. Parents are going online in droves looking for ideas to decorate their kid’s rooms but the truth is, you don’t need to spend a fortune doing it.

African Safari Decor Ideas

Yes, you could head to the nearest exotic shop and buy African safari decor but if you are on a budget, then this cost could become rather prohibitive.

Let’s take a look a few ideas to turn your son’s or daughter’s room into a safari setting. Remember, this can be an ongoing project so it doesn’t need to be done in a hurry.

– For the effect of vines, material such as braided twine is relatively inexpensive and by heading down to your nearest dollar store, you can pick up either green paper or garland and create a leafy look. Simply hang your vines from the ceiling.

– Also to create an effect of growing vines, wrap some of the twine along your curtain rods and around the outside of the door frame.

– For animal effect, head down to your nearest charity store and pick up toys which would match an African setting. Lions, monkeys giraffes – as long as they are native to Africa. There is no limit to the number of toys you could find. Yard sales are another great place to pick up old toys on the cheap.

– For greater effect, painting a mural on one or two of the walls with a jungle theme will add a real touch of the exotics to a room.

– Bamboo and palm plants are excellent for creating a more realistic jungle effect.

– Transform a layer of netting into a hummock and put it in a corner of the room.

– African ornaments such as drums, spears and shields may take a little finding at the right price but can only give the room more Africa-style flavor. This is true African safari decor and worth looking for.

– Cut out animal pictures from books and paste them around the room. Use animal covered wrapping paper to decorate further and use a safari hat and a pair of binoculars for further effect.

For a chance to Win African Art in our Afrik-Jungle Sweepstakes. Click here!

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African Decor: Most Frequently Asked African Decor Questions

April 7th, 2009

African decor continues to grow in popularity because of it’s timeless beauty and elegance. Many people still have doubts about how to choose quality pieces.

With so many copycat, fast buck merchants peddling fake, cheap and even phony African Decor (made in China), it’s important to have a buyer beware attitude when it comes to buying . Here’s the most frequently asked questions I received last month on African Decor.

– What does African Decor Include?

African decor includes a variety of a symbols from the continent. The more popular themes include statues, figurines, sculptures, beads, and masks. But the number of items is much too numerous to mention. But limiting African decor to a list of items is inaccurate. African decor not only includes individual items they include the colors, textures and tones of African. For example, the Mosaic array of colors of Morocco, the variety of sand tones of the Sahara or the hand carved wooden sculptures of Ghana.

– Why Gives African Style Decor It’s Longevity?

Unlike most manufactured decor, African handmade items have carved a long reputation for lasting beauty and elegance the world over. Because true African sculptures, artist and tradesmen look at trade as a Spiritual calling not just a job. We put our heart and soul into each piece until we are empty”, states one Ghana sculptor.

– What Materials are most African Theme Decor Made Of?

Most African theme decor comes from natural materials of the earth, this is what has made African decor eco-friendly long before the term became popular. They include materials such as bamboo and teak which are fast growing trees. Other materials used for African decor includes clay used in pottery, natural paints made from plants and of course colorful weaving materials and beads.

– How Can You Pick A Quality African Style Basket?

The best way to choose a quality African basket is to look at the loom. The best quality loom is the horizontal pedal loom. Any basket containing a horizontal loom will last longer because it requires more skill and time to make.

– What’s African Accessories Add Warmth To A Room?

The best way to add a feeling of warmth is to use rustic material. For example, materials like clay, stone, copper and other metals. Also a hand-carved wood piece can also help to add a touch of warm coziness to a cold impersonal space in your home of office.

Hopefully sharing these questions and answers with you helps give you a better understanding of the priceless treasure African decor offers. I encourage you to explore the adventure and excitement African decor can add to your life and environment.