Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mvuala Description

Figure 1 Mvuala (staff handle). Angola/Democratic Republic
of Congo, Solongo. 19th or 20th century CE. Ivory, height 41/4"
(11 cm). Private Collection, Brussels
The Mvuala is carved ivory that is meant to be a handle for a staff. This type of staff would belong to a chief from Central Africa. This staff would be passed down from generation to generation and would suggest a political power. It is not the reasoning behind the ceremony, but rather the initiation ceremonies are symbolized by a staff similar to the one pictured.  If the ancestors did not pass down their reign there would be no staff.

The staff appears to be a woman because of fertility. The staff is passed from one generation to the next and new generations would not be produced if it weren't for women. Central Africa cares vastly about fertility and appreciates their women and their ability to bestow children.  The figure on top of the staff has its hands resting on its thighs to represent obedience. It's texture is smooth in order to capture the softness of human flesh. Also, the head is turned over the shoulder to signify watchfulness. These attributions are claimed by the staff's new owner. 


Kampen O'Riley, Michael. "Africa. In Art Beyond the West, 245. 2nd ed. 
       Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006

The image is from the book described above.

Throne of King Nsa'ngu Description

                                                       Throne of King Nsa'ngu Description

        While going through Art Beyond The West, I had came across a very interesting figure that was in the African section. After I had read through more of the description of this wonderful piece, I soon found out that this piece is a sculpture of the king's throne. This wonderful African piece is made out of wood, different kinds of glass beads, and cowrie shells. This sculpture is almost a full 6 feet tall. The artist for this piece is still unknown to this day. There are two figures at the top of this piece, one has a flute or horn of some sort in his hands, the other figure has a offering bowl in their hands as if they are offering something to their king.There are snake like figures right underneath the top two figures that almost seem as if they represent a binder of some sort. They represent how close the people are with their king. There are two more figures that are close to the bottom, that seem like they have a weapon of some sort in their hands as if they are guarding the kings throne. At the very bottom of this piece, there are five different figures, they appear to be everyday people of the king, they seem to be holding up the kings throne, as if they are the life of the king. 

File:Trône Bamum-Musée ethnologique de Berlin.jpg
                             Throne of King Nsa'ngu
        The artist used some very light toned blues on the red-faced figures clothing. The other figure at the top has more of a very-saturated blue for their clothing. The artist most likely has them with  different colors to tell the difference of the two. The other seven figures that are on this piece are painted with a very dull green. The snake-like figures on this piece are painted with the same two blues that the top two figures are painted with. There are many geometric shapes throughout this piece. For example, the top two figures have many triangles within their clothing and their headdress. The other two figures below the top two figures have these zig-zag patterns along their sleeves and more of the triangle patterns. The objects they seem to be holding in their hands have these checkered pattern in them. The box the two are standing on seems like it is made out of very dull tan beads. The five figures at the bottom all have many geometric patterns, such as the triangle pattern and the zig-zag pattern. This piece would be set up outside of his palace so he would be able to sit during events.


Refrence:                                                                                                                                       Kampen O'Riley, Michael. "In Africa." In Art Beyond the West, 260-261. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ:Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

7.24 Throne of King Nsa'ngu. Cameroon, Bamum. Late 19th century. Wood, glass beads, and cowrie shells; height 68 1/2'' (1.74m). Museum fur Volkerkunde, Berlin. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kongo Rikishi Description

Kongo Rikishi Description

While looking through Art Beyond the West, I came upon a very interesting statue in the Japan and Korea section. At first sight this statue resembled a demon-like figure. After further observation and reading, I soon discovered that this statue is actually a guardian for Buddha. This magnificent sculpture is made out of wood and was hand crafted during the kamakura Period, 1203. This piece is 8.07 meters tall (26'6" feet). The amount of detail in this sculpture is incredible. Starting with the head, the definition in the face is very protruding and detailed. The lines of the eyes are very defined and smooth which develops a very defined facial expression. The ear lobes on this sculpture are quite long which can be compared to Buddha, but this figure is not Buddha, but merely has a relationship to Buddha as a guardian from demons. When building this sculpture, the artists must have spent a great amount of time and effort to maximize the detail and shape of the teeth. With much difficulty, the artists managed to put extreme amounts of detail within the rest of the body as well.

Kongo Rikishi
The upper body of the statue is carved with greats amount of detail with a sense of hyper reality in the defining of the arm muscles, and the abdomen muscles. On the chest is an amulet of some sort that has multiple protrusions and indentations which ultimately defines a very detailed amulet. In the right arm of the statue is a weapon of some sort. The weapon shows similarity to a staff or javelin like weapon. Within the weapon, is a great amount of detail through the entirety of the weapon  and on the top of the weapon is a spherical top piece which has openings that are curved into one another. The only piece of clothing that the statue is wearing is a skirt piece that resembles a samurai outfit with a headband. This part of the statue is very impressive, because it is carved into the wood and it still manages to have a flow appearance to it. Because every crinkle and wave of the fabric is seen in the carving, the amount of detail in the skirt is extreme. When observing the legs of the statue, there is a sight of hyper reality in the muscles of the legs and much detail resembling the arms. The overall appearance of the structure is a very masculine and muscular piece with very detailed carvings. 

Riley, Michael. "Africa." In Art beyond the West: The Arts of Western and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas, 171. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

Image Credit: Tatsurus
Link: Kongo Rikishi 

Description: Aoki Shigeru, Paradise under the Sea

 This is an oil painting on canvas of an ancient Japanese legend. The composition shows three figures in an implied triangular shape. The figures were painted with a lot of detail in the fabric and the draping of the fabric. The brushstrokes are lightly painted and look very effortless. The technique he used in painting the fabric looks like the figure was dipped in water to make the cloth form to the women's bodies. The tree the male figure is sitting on looks as though each leaf and branch was made one brush stroke at a time.

He used a good mixture of cool and warm colors in this painting to show some warmth and also to show the depth of the water. The tree is made up of mostly earthy green colors while the women's clothes are painted with some warmer pastel colors and were painted to look slightly transparent. He even painted the figures faces with rosy cheeks to make them look more lifelike. The male figure also includes shadows and highlights on his face and body. He used a warm yellow color to draw the eye to the male figures face and made it look like a halo of light surrounding him.


References: Kampen-O'Riley, Michael."Japan and Korea." Art beyond the West: The Arts of Africa, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, and the Americas. New York: H.N. Abrams, 2002. 243. Print.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hunter and Kangaroo: A Description

       For the Aboriginal tribes of Australia, the physical and the spiritual, immaterial worlds are often depicted as existing within one another. Thus, to fully understand the art of these tribes of Australia, it is important to understand the culture from which it is created.For each clan and its members, their lives are tied within The Dreaming, or the spiritual, immaterial world that encompasses the lands, plants, animals, myths, and legends. In aboriginal belief, the world was created by the earliest Ancestor Spirits, and the spirits of these creative ancestors lie within the physical world that surrounds each clan (O'Riley). As these spirits traveled, they created the land and became part of it, remaining with it through all time. Thus, each clan is tied to a specific episode or section of The Dreaming, and are responsible for representing and communicating with their Ancestor Spirits through rituals and art. Moreover, it is believed that the mimi, or earliest ancestor spirits of the present Aboriginals, passed the art of painting and creation down through the generations(O'Riley). With this in mind, in Aboriginal belief, the artist is no longer seen as a creator, but is tasked with the responsibility of rediscovering, or literally, representing the ancient spirits to his or her community. The art and rituals are seen as vessels to the spirit world, and everything within Aboriginal society: the mimi, the spirit ancestors, and their presence in this world live in a timeless landscape.
Fig. 1 "Hunter and Kangaroo" Paint on bark,
51 x 32" (129 x 81 cm). Oenpelli, Arnhem Land, Australia.
c. 1912. Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. 
       In understanding what influences Aboriginal art, we can now dissect and begin to fully appreciate this ancient art form. When looking at this piece, known simply as Hunter and Kangaroo, several key elements begin to come forth. In looking at the piece as a whole, the canvas itself lends to the design. The aboriginals were constantly in contact with their spirit ancestors, who existed in the world around them, and this knowledge of existence is evident in the canvas and medium. The canvas is the bark of the stringbark tree, also known as the Eucalyptus Tree (Eucalyptus tetradonta) (Resture). Also, the paint was often derived from the surrounding landscape: the cliffs bordering the sea, the rocks, and even roots and plants, such as flowers. This respect for nature and utilization of natural materials only continues into the subject of the painting. There appears to be a hunter spearing a kangaroo, but neither are depicted in the normal form. Both utilize what was known as the X-ray style, common to the Oenpelli people of the Arnhem Lands (O'Riley). In looking at the individual figures, it is evident an attempt at understanding the inner form and essence of each figure. As hunter understands his prey, so does the opposite, thus the image creates a universal respect between both figures. Furthering this idea, the Kangaroo is larger than the hunter, emphasizing the idea that without him, the hunter would die and neither would exist. In essence, this piece is a commentary on the Aboriginal ideas of ancestry and the spirit world. As discussed before, the Aborigines believed art was a vessel for communicating with the spirit world and their ancestors, and that this world existed everywhere around them; in nature, in the landscape and in themselves. In essence, this piece is acknowledging that existence; it is asking the spirit ancestors for a successful hunt, but moreover acknowledging the idea that these ancestors exist within and around each person, and that a mutual respect exists between every living thing. What we are given is not a piece of art, but a vessel that embodies the spiritual that the Aborigines access every day, strengthening the link from past to present. 


Kampen O'Riley, Michael. "The Pacific." In Art Beyond the West, 207-208. 2nd ed.
       Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 

Resture, Jane. "Australia: Aboriginal Bark Painting." Jane's Oceania. March, 2012.
       Accessed October, 2014.

Fig. 1. Oenpelli. Hunter and Kangaroo. 1912, Paint on Bark. Arnhem Land. Museum
       Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. In Art Beyond the West, 208.

Funeral Post Description

The African tribe, Giryama, had many complex rituals and death traditions and one interesting ritual in particular is the creation and placement of a funeral post for the deceased.  The post is a light gray color, making it look like it was make out of stone rather than wood. This could be a way to make it look more valuable to suit the wealthy spirit that it represented. The cracks present on the wood show that it’s aged significantly, but since the color is a vibrant gray it shows that it’s taken care of.

The post itself has a striking contrast when it comes to the face and body. The face is natural and simple, while the rest of the rectangular body is filled with geometric shapes and cuts. The many shapes represented the events that occurred in the life of the individual, and the chunks that are severed from the edges could represent life and death. The precision and symmetry of the various triangles themselves show elegance, a display of hard work the definitely would have pleased the honored deceased. 

Picture: Traditional African Art. Digital image. Bwoom-Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

Information Source: Kampen-O'Riley, Michael. "Africa." Art beyond the West: The Arts of Africa, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, and the Americas. New York: H.N. Abrams, 2002. 243. Print.

Bottled Vase Description

      The Bottled Vase has a slight s-curve giving it a settle movement within the form of it. The potter gave this vase a very big belly and then a skinny neck which starts to give it balance. To continue with giving the vase even more balance, the potter gave it a foot and added a very wide mouth/lip. All of these elements to the vase makes it look very elegant. 

      To further the beauty of this vase, the potter decided on a glaze. He had choosen a celadon glaze, which is a very common glaze to use in this period. A celadon glaze is a glaze that comes in various colors and will craze in different firing conditions. This particular vase does have crazing or a crackling pattern -- it may because of too fast of a cooling period or maybe the glaze shrunk more than the clay body. Many different variables can happen to cause these things. Also, the coloring of the crazing maybe because of it being stained by a tea or simply by age. 

Fig 4.24 Bottled vase. Southern
Song dynasty. Guan
porcellanous stoneware
Photo Credit:
Kampen-O'Riley, Michael. "China." Art beyond the West: The Arts of Western and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 130. Print.

Kampen-O'Riley, Michael. "China." Art beyond the West: The Arts of Western and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 130. Print.

Peterson, Beth. "Crazing." About. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <>.

    "Learn About Celadon Glazes." Amacocom American Art Clay Co Inc RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <>.

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    Nkisi nkondi (hunter figure). Democratic Republic of Congo, Kongo. Collected 1905

    Initial reaction
    When I first saw this image in Art Beyond The West, I wasn't sure exactly what it was. It seems it is an African ritual sculpture of some sort. What really disturbed me was the fact that it had all these nails hammered into it as if they were torturing someone. It seems that there is a lot of expression in the statues face as it is raising its arm to attack who ever it was that had the curse on him. The wrists and ankles are bounded with rope as if someone had him restrained.

    After Research 
    The priests of the Kongo use a type of carved wooden statue (pictured above) called a nkisi nkondi to find solutions for the villages problems. The name, which means something like "hunter," is used because the priests use such works to, "hunt" for solutions to village problems and search for wrongdoers, including those who do not keep sworn oaths. It is really interesting that priests use these statues to solve problems in the village. If a villager wants to become a "hunter" he has to swear an oath to the priest and drive a nail into the statues body to blind himself of spiritual forces. When the "hunter" has found a solution to the village problem, the nail that he drove into the statue is removed to signify that the problem is no longer an issue. Although colonial administrators attempted to repress their use after 1920, some priests "hunters" remain at work today.

    O'Riley, Michael Kampen. "The Pacific." In Art Beyond the West, 246-247. 2nd ed.

           Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

    Figure 7.9 Nkisi nkondi (hunter figure). Democratic Republic of Congo, Kongo. Collected 1905. Wood, metal, glass, and mixed media; height 38" (97 cm). Barbier-Muller Collection, Geneva.

    Photo Credit

    “Beaded Dress” by Mrs. Minnie Sky Arrow


    Initial Reaction:
    When looking through the text, I am skimming the photographs looking for something to catch my eye but most everything seems very unappealing. Then I finally came upon a piece that strikes my interest a lot. It has a lot of color -- the color is not dull but it is very vibrant and appealing to the eye. Also, there seems to be a lot of geometrical shapes are rearranged to make other shapes and designs. I find it very beautiful the way the designs are worked into the piece. there are also very elegant “C” and “S” curves used within the piece. Also I believe the piece I have chosen is some kind of native american outfit, which strikes my interest even more.
    After research:
    After looking the piece up, I learned that it is titled “Beaded Dress” and made by Mrs. Minnie Sky Arrow in 1890. The beaded dress is made of buck skin and is completely beaded on both sides, which makes all of the color of the dress and weighs around seven pounds. The beads being worked into the dresses/clothing wasn’t really known of until europe started importing glass beads into America in 1869. Once the Native Americans found use for these beads the women started working them into the clothing, especially the clothing used in ceremonies. Mrs. Sky Arrow had wore this particular beaded dress when she gave piano concerts around the country. With her amazing beadwork, it struck the attention of many Native American tribes/cults. One group in particular that was emotionally inspired by Wovoka decided to make a new kind of clothing, Ghost Dance shirts. They had believed that the shirts were bullet proof which led to the massacre at Wounded Knee Creek on December 29, 1890. Beadwork in clothing is still being produced in present day by Native Americans.

    Works Cited:
    Kampen-O'Riley, Michael. "The Americas." Art beyond the West: The Arts of Western and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 324. Print.

    Nam June Paik, TV Buddha (1974)

    Initial Reaction: The picture depicts the religious figure known as Buddha, on a white table facing a tiny futuristic looking TV. There is a camera behind the TV and its recording that same Buddha and displaying it on the TV. The form of this art piece is what drew me in, it is hands on instead of it being just another painting or drawing, its 3D nature provides a sense of realism. I am drawn to the color contrasts of the ancient brassy looking Buddha against the sleek white TV and table it is placed on. Maybe it’s meant to say that an old religion such as Buddhism is out of place in this modernized future. There is also a question on why Buddha is being recorded, and that could signify how people want proof that a religion works.
    After Research: Buddha watching himself from the TV connects to the historical “Gautama Buddha”, one that found enlightenment through contemplation and withdrawal from the culture surrounding him. The TV symbolizes timelessness and because it shows Buddha on the screen it further represents the infamous teachings of Buddha. My realizations from the research of this piece shows that I’m not very open to religion, I figured in my first reaction that Buddhism is out of place when this piece is representing the opposite. Even though this piece is displaying that the Buddha is modern and still very live, in today’s culture and society it is rarely considered. 

    Research Source: Kampen-O'Riley, Michael. Art beyond the West: The Arts of Africa, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, and the Americas. New York: H.N. Abrams, 2002. Print.

    Picture credited to Anna Fuster

    Throne of King Nsa'ngu

    Initial Reaction

    The cobalt blue and dirty orange colors are very intriguing and visually appealing. The use of pattern in this piece make the viewers eye travel throughout. For instance, the snake is made of hash marks that are white and draw your attention, then the curving lines allow the viewers eyes to follow the shape moving throughout the entire piece. Upon first viewing the piece, I notice that there are four figures; two characters at the top seem to be more important and of some sort of value based on there position in this piece. 

    After Research

    Throne of King Nsa'ngu. Cameroon, Bamum. Late 19th century.
    After reading about this artwork in the book I realize that it is a piece is done by an artist from the Cameroon grasslands, which is Directly East of Nigeria. This piece is a throne of King Nsa'ngu. He would sit in front of the two larger figures in back and his feet would rest on the foot stool in between the bottom two figures. The two figures in the back are fertility symbols that symbolize the king's role as father to his people. The two figures on the bottom of the throne are said to symbolize "Njoya's use of traditional wisdom in his rule." The double-headed serpent symbolizes his strength in battle, these are on the seat. Thrones such as this were kept inside the palace and only moved to the front of the palace when the king held audiences there. It had to be moved by specially appointed throne bearers. 

    O'Riley, Michael Kampen. "The Pacific." In Art Beyond the West, 260-261. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

    Figure 1:

    Moai. Easter Island Pre-15th Century CE

    Initial Reaction

    When I first saw this picture in Art Beyond the West I noticed that these figures seemed very old. In the photo these figures looked stoic and their facial features look detailed compared to their bodies. Their facial features look like they have been enlarged.  These figures look like they are made of some sort of stone. These structures look weathered from many years of being out in the wind and rain. When I looked a little closer at their faces they seemed to be frowning and the eyes were very profound. I also noticed that some of these figures had similar faces and features.

    After Research 

    Around 1000 CE, the Easter Island natives began constructing these half figures on stone platforms on the hillside of the island. These structures represent the ancestors/ chiefs that guarded the villages and ceremonial places on the island. They were used for rituals, and scriptures were set in the platforms. When construction stopped a lot of these structures collapsed. These Moai were carved from a yellowish brown coarse tufa that was found in the extinct volcano Rano Raraku. Only 1000 of these have survived including many that were never finished. Over time their features became more elongated. The newest ones have small foreheads, massive brows, long faces and strong pointed chins. They cut these figures out of the volcano after they were carved and were dragged on rollers from the crater of the volcano. The pathways are still visible today.

    Riley, Michael."The Pacific." In Art Beyond the West: The Arts of Western and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, The Pacific, Africa, and The Americas, 223-224. Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, N.J.:Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006

    Photo Credit: Mary Madigan 

    French Polynesia: The Tuhuka and his Tatau

    Initial Reaction:
           At first glance of the piece "Tattooed Marquesan Warrior," several stylistic elements come forward in its description. When describing, it is evident that the use of geometric shapes and lines were important in not depicting the contour of the human anatomy, but rather its inner form, the anatomy the skin, an idea important in early Chinese art. Looking further, Negative space and heavy contrast between the contour of the body and the background suggest a heightened focus on the central character. Minimal horizontal lines at the base hint at a background space, and a simple one color foreground place the subject on a plane directly in front of the viewer. Certain elements of the form and shape, i.e. the shading of the body according to underlying muscle structure demonstrates a firm understanding of the human anatomy and the play of light vs. shadows on it. Also, the muted blues, rusty reds, faded yellows and greens would suggest a focus on the geometric designs within the contour of the body. In retrospect, first glance would lead me to believe it a mesoamerican or southwestern asian(polynesian) islands piece, but the depiction of the facial structure and hair would lead me to believe it was a representation of one of the aforementioned cultures by a European, possibly Spanish artist. 
    Fig. 1 "Tattooed Marquesan Warrior." Engraving of Noukahiwa
    in N. Dally's Customs and Costumes of the Peoples of the World,
                    Turin, 1845. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

    After Research
           After researching the "Tattooed Marquesan Warrior," the work's motives, history, and symbology provided much more clarity to my initial reaction. This engraving is found in N. Dally's Customs and Costumes of the Peoples of the World, and represents Noukahiwa, a warrior from the Marquesas in what was French Polynesia (O'Riley). But what was more important than the figure himself was the art that resided in his skin. With a highly spiritual emphasis on art, tattooing was considered one of the most important art forms in their culture. Tattooing was a way of preserving one's mana, or sacred powers passed on by their ancestors. For the Marquesa, Tatau(tattoo), was an art form highly revered by the people and the Tatau artists, often called Tuhuka or Tuhuna, meaning master, were often held in high regard with other artists and priests(O'Riley). Moreover, these tattoos carried significant importance to one's mana. These marking were etched in one's body, and were direct links to one's ancestors, past, and mana. They empowered the wearer, beautified the body, and made the wearer a living work of art, and a direct link to their ancestors(O'Riley). In addition, the Tuhuka worked with the form of the body itself, etching straight lines, geometric patterns, and curves that followed the body. In essence, the tataus of the Marquesan peoples weren't purely superficial designs; they were lines, intricate patterns, and master plans, creating paths that could be traveled, connecting these people with their past. Often taking years to complete, it used the human body to create a spirit or energy that lifted the wearer into a heightened sense of spirituality, a living work of art. For the Marquesa, the human body was merely a conduit for art, one of the highest spiritual elements they worked with. This piece not only serves its purpose as a window into  what was an alien culture to the French, but as a window into their spirituality and beliefs, a window to their ancestors. 


    O'Riley, Michael Kampen. "The Pacific." In Art Beyond the West, 217-219. 2nd ed. 
           Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 

    Fig. 1. N. Dally, Tattooed Marquesan Warrior. 1845, Engraving. Musée des Arts 
           Décoratifs, Paris. From Customs and Costumes of the Peoples of the World
           Turin. 1845. In Art Beyond the West, 218.

    Friday, September 19, 2014

    The Great Mosque, Dejenne Mali. 14th Century

    Initial Reaction

    While skimming through Art Beyond the West, I encountered something that captured my attention. When initially observing this structure, it first appeared to be a structure similar to a sand castle, but in a real-life size. After further observations, I started to notice some interesting details. Because it looks as if it is made of dirt and clay, the structure seems to have a very dated appearance. Based upon the general designs of the walls and the towers associated within, the entire structure seems to look like a church or religious center, The structure has interesting protrusions that make it have a prickly appearance. These protruding pieces look similar to wood or clay. Interestingly enough, this structure's lining, including the towers, walls, mounds, protrusions,  and spacing is very precise. The fact that it is very precise shows that it must have taken time and skilled builders to build this, due to the fact that in older times building tools were not very common.

    After Research

    After initially observing and appreciating this structure with no previous knowledge regarding to what it was, I decided to further my knowledge in this interesting structure and discover new information about it. This sand castle-looking structure is actually called The Great Mosque at Djenne, Mali. According to Art Beyond the West, the first version of the Islamic Mosque was built in the 14th century. The second version of the Great Mosque was built in 1835, and the current Great Mosque that is still standing was built in 1907. All of these reconstructions were done to improve the Great Mosque both structurally and decoratively. The Mosque is made of puddle clay, adobe bricks, clay and straw mixtures, and other binders set in molds that dried in the sun. The protrusions on the walls give the Mosque a interesting prickly appearance, but they also have a function. According to Art Beyond the West, the wooden protrusions have the function of supporting the workers who re-plaster the walls annually at spring time because of the erosion caused by rain and wind. The current function of the Great Mosque is to hold religious gatherings, ceremonies, and celebrations.


    Riley, Michael. "Africa." In Art beyond the West: The Arts of Western and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas, 262-263. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.

    Photo Credit: Jurgen