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tisdag 10 april 2012

The longest surviving tradition of African sculpture is figures in terracotta. Cast metal is the only other material to withstand the continent's termites (fatal to the carved wood of most African sculpture). But the superb metal sculptures of Nigeria, beginning in about the 12th century, are of a much later period than the first terracottas. West Africa, and in particular modern Nigeria, provides the longest and richest sequence of terracotta figures. They date back two and a half millennia to the extraordinary Nok sculptures. By around the 1st century AD figures of a wonderful severity are being modelled in the Sokoto region of northwest Nigeria. Terracotta heads and figures have been found in Ife, dating from the 12th to 15th century - the same period as the first cast-metal sculptures of this region. At Jenne, further north in Mali, archaeologists (followed unfortunately by thieves) have recently unearthed superb terracottas of the same period. One extraordinary group of terracottas is the exception in this mainly west African story, in that they come from south Africa where they are the earliest known sculptures. They are seven heads, found at Lydenburg in the Transvaal. Modelled in a brutally chunky style, they date from about the 6th century AD. Powerful terracotta figures in traditional style continue to be made in Africa in the 19th and 20th century, contemporary with the superb carved wooden figures which survive from those two centuries. Unlike European painting or sculpture, style does not greatly change over the years in African tribal art. So it is a safe assumption that the astonishing imaginative range of African carving familiar to us today was just as evident many centuries ago, though the objects themselves have now crumbled to dust. Read more: http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=aa39#ixzz1rfogV4v8

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