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The Enigmatic Power of African Art

By Charles Hopkins Published 11/30/2007 | Arts and Culture
Africa is one of the most enigmatic places both because of the richness of the land as well as their rich cultural heritage.  This culture is often encapsulated in the term African art, any form of art that has the richness and distinction of Africa.  The tradition of African art cannot be traced simply because its roots are so deep and the origin so long before.  Until now, African art thrives thanks to the presence of the indigenous people and contemporary African artists.

The Standards of African Art

Generalizing African art is just as hasty as generalizing all the states of the United States.  Simply, African art is just so diverse and different that putting it under one umbrella term may seem uncalled for and impossible.  However, there are certain common factors that distinguish African art from other arts.  These distinctions give African art its unique identity, discrete from all other known arts.  One of the points by which African art is distinguished is the depiction of the human form.  African art, traditional as well as contemporary, usually depicts the human form in every way imaginable.  Also, African art is eminent in useful tools such as pots and cooking utensils.  These are, in a way, considered as sculptures.  As with sculptures, you will not only find useful tools but also, usually, carved wooden figures.  Lastly, African art is noted for its heavy emphasis on moving art.  Such can be exemplified through their rituals and dances both are good examples of African art.  These are some of the common and unifying themes of African art in an attempt to put the diverse branch in one umbrella term.

Traditional African Art

Traditional African art is richly embedded in most African cultures and societies until now.  While other countries tend to regard traditional art as art that can no longer be applied to present society, African art still is greatly applied in Africa.  This holds especially true for African rituals and dances, which, until present time, are done by most tribes in Africa.  The reason why traditional African art is still very much alive and rich in Africa is because of the presence of indigenous people who have actively handed out these traditions from generation to generation.  This caused African art to be well-preserved the generations past has made sure that their cultural heritage has been passed on without embellishments usually wrought by modernity.  This is why the end of African art is nowhere near.