Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought

Henry Drewal, Author, Jerry L. Thompson, Illustrator, Jerry L. Thompson, Photographer
Henry Drewal, Author, Jerry L. Thompson, Illustrator, Jerry L. Thompson, Photographer ABRAMS $65 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8109-1794-1
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Arising around A.D. 800, the ancient, walled Yoruba kingdoms were complex city states headed by sacred rulers, both male and female. Their modern descendants, Yoruba-speaking peoples of Nigeria and Benin, have preserved traditional art forms rooted in a view of the cosmos as alive and in constant flux. The stunning catalogue of a traveling exhibition, this volume serves as a window onto a world where ``character is beauty,'' where rebirth occurs continuously and where spirits, gods and the life force are all-pervasive. Naturalistic terracotta heads, beaded crowns, ceremonial staffs topped with stylized birds, and objects in ivory, bronze, stone and wood display rare artistry. Many of the pieces shown are best understood in a ritual context, provided by Drewal, an art historian at Cleveland State University, and Pemberton, a professor of religion at Amherst. (May)
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