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The Bamana (or Bambara) are members of the Mande culture, a large and powerful group of peoples in western Africa. The artistic tradition of the Bamana is rich, encompassing pottery, sculpture, beautiful bokolanfini cloth, and wrought-iron figures crafted by blacksmiths. They also have an extensive tradition of masks, which are used as a form of social control and community education.
This volume focuses on the aesthetic qualities of the masterpieces of Bamana religious art in Mali and resituates them in their social, aesthetic, and cultural context. The emphasis is on pieces used in rites of passage (Ntomo, funerals), or by agricultural cooperatives, and initiation societies (Jo, Komo, Kono, Tyiwara, Namakoro). The pieces are sublime precisely because they stand at the crossroads of religion, art, and politics.
Works included in the book are from the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seattle Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Indiana University Art Museum, Museum for African Art NY, National Museum of African Art (Smithsonian Institution).
Customer Reviews (1)
I have all the volumes of 5 Continents "Visions of Africa" series and I like every one.They give you a great perspective on the history of each tribe, past and current interpretations of their cultures and art objects.There are so many tribes in Africa, it is really difficult for an amateur to keep up with all of them.The Bamana has particular interest to me because my earliest interest in African art was nurtured by the exposure to a Chiwara headress.It wasn't a very good one, but I fell in love with it because of it's alluring form and the creative interpretation of the subject.There are some excellent examples of Bamana art, including Chiwaras in the Menil collection in Houston, some similar to those in this book.The chiwara or "tyiwara", are represented by 15 examples here, and the variety, composition and allure of each is distinctive.There are 62 color plates, with plate captions at the end so you can enjoy the beautiful photos of each piece without distraction, which is the same approach taken by the Menil Collection.The other items include wood figures and masks.Most, if not all, of these specimens have appeared in other books over the years, but it doesn't diminish their role in making this an excellent resource for reviewing art of the Bamana and reviewing the culture of the people.Personally, I also enjoy seeing where the original pieces are located, so I can look for them in a museum, or recall having seen one there on a trip.
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