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. <>.