Prehistoric African Art  

A variety of ecological and topographical areas dominate Africa. High mountains, parched deserts and river valleys and distinct cultural, ethnic and linguistic groups have filled the continent. Conservatism, spiritualism and highly expressive art forms have been created by the African artists who share strong beliefs, follow core practices and established conventions.

African art encompasses a diverse range of ceramic and cement sculptures, urban murals and rock images. The elite royal contexts created by the artists have survived for many centuries together. The art forms depict African perspectives of the world and their ideologies. Art does not serve as just a decoration item but is integral with the lifestyle of people.

Ethnic African groups have created a variety of visuals that differ according to lifestyle, materials used, iconography and economy. Herders used art for adorning personally. Gatherers and hunters created petroglyphs and pictographs. Farmers created sculptures using clay and metallic art pieces.

The earliest form of African art consisted of pictographs and petroglyphs which are more than 6,000 years old. Rock art forms have been found in South Africa and Namibia. The rock surfaces have depicted animal and human activities.

Masks and figures also occupy a predominant position in the prehistoric African art scenario. These were used in ceremonies conducted for religious purposes. The value of these art forms cannot be separated from the purpose for which they were used. However, no special efforts were taken to preserve the art forms. Decorative art works were used for ornamentation in textiles. Wooden art pieces were decorated with beads, shells, clay, metal, feathers and ivory.

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Prehistoric African Art




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