Article

Arts of Central Africa

Allen F. Roberts

in African Studies

ISBN: 9780199846733
Published online October 2013 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0126
Arts of Central Africa

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Central Africa consists of the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC, the Republic of the Congo or Congo/Brazza, the Central African Republic or CAR, and the Republics of Chad, Burundi, Rwanda, Zambia, and the northern parts of Malawi. The region is marked by great cultural, linguistic, and political diversity, which is reflected in very varied artistic expression. Sculpture includes figures inhabited by ancestral and tutelary spirits and masks that must be understood in their performative totalities of costuming, music, and choreography. Status emblems, figurative tools and weapons, architectural ornamentation, personal furniture such as stools and headrests, scepters, and staffs are often magnificently realized. Beadwork and other fine accoutrements, frequently accompanied by scarification, hairdressing, and other intimate arts, are still practiced today to some extent in some places. Textile arts are exceptionally well developed in Central Africa as are those of iron and copper; and pottery, basketry, and other idioms merge aesthetic achievement with utilitarian purpose. Performance arts are also very well developed, and music, dance, and narrative are as important to contemporary life as in earlier times, although in ever-changing ways. Contemporary arts of Central Africa, such as painting, photography, choreography, popular music, and theater, gain ever-greater prominence in local and international arenas.

Article.  13623 words. 

Subjects: African History ; African Languages ; African Music ; African Philosophy ; African Studies

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