Itcan also be used as an implement and insignia of rank or prestige, orhave a religious significance. African art consists mainly ofsculptures, paintings, fetishes, masks, figures, and decorativeobjects. Sculptures are considered to be the greatest achievement forAfrican art. A majority of the sculptures are done in wood but arealso made of metal, stone, terra-cotta, mud, beadwork, ivory, andother materials.
It is found in many parts of Africa but mainly inwestern and central Africa. Many ancient rock paintings have beenfound in Southern and Eastern Africa. These paintings are believed tobe attributed to the SAN (Bushman) people. Masks and fetishes areoften used to scare off bad things such as evil spirits, witches orghosts. They are also used to bring about a desired end-break a badhabit, improve ones love life, or kill a natural or supernaturalenemy.
There are three basic themes of African art. The first is thedualism between bush and village. African tribes wear masks andheadresses: the male is represented by the elephant, the most powerfulof bush creatures and the female is delicately coiffed to expressrefinement and civilization. The second theme of African art is theproblematic relationships between the sexes. African tribes use art asa therapeutic device to deal with the problems and issues dealing withthe relations between the sexes. The third theme is the struggle tocontrol natural or supernatural forces to achieve a desired end.
African tribes often use masks in ceremonies (called Gelede) toplease and honor the forces. For each region in Africa,there is a different style ofart. The western Sudanic Region have masks and figures representinglegendary ancestors and religious sacrifices. The central SudanicRegion art includes mud architecture, embroidered textiles, elaboratecoiffure, metal and beadwork jewelry,and leatherwork.
This styleusually doesn’t represent anything special. The west Guinea CoastRegion use masks and figures to police ceremonies,punish people fordoing something wrong, settle land-owning problems and start or endwars. The Central Guinea Coast Region art employs aristocraticmaterials. Specialized artists creature works of art for the leadersthat include: stools, drums, cloth, pottery, terra-cotta, figures,miniature masks, combs, mirrors, pipes, and carved musicalinstruments.
African art is traditionally essential and optimistic. Withoutart, there would be no African culture.