Peace, Power and Prestige:
Metal Arts in Africa

March 17, 2020 - November 30, 2020

Peace, Power and Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa will explore the roles of metal objects in sustaining and enhancing life in African communities, while demonstrating the aesthetic and expressive power of metal arts. For millennia, African metalsmiths have drawn upon the inherent power and beauty of metal to create dazzling and enduring objects including:

  • Body adornment and currency items for proclaiming wealth and social status.
  • Staffs, scepters, weaponry and other regalia as emblems of leadership and authority.
  • Amulets and sacred objects used in spiritual mediation.

 

The exhibition will include a diverse range of iron, brass, bronze, gold, copper, silver and alloyed works created by artists in Sub-Saharan Africa between the 12th and 21st centuries. The selected objects are from the Harn Museum of Art collection and private collections, most notably the Drs. John and Nicole Dintenfass collection.

Highlights in the exhibition include:

  • Iron staffs and figures of the Mande smiths of Mali.
  • Bronze and iron chiefly regalia from the Edo people of Nigeria.
  • Brass and iron ceremonial swords, brass adorned stools and goldweights, and personal adornment signifying prestige and leadership for the Akan people of Ghana.
  • Brass and copper reliquary guardian figure of the Kota of Gabon.
  • Cuprous currencies, ceremonial staffs and weaponry from Congo.
  • Iron and bronze shrine objects of the Dogon people of Mali.
  • Objects adorned with fine wirework from South Africa.
  • Ogboni society brass staffs, figures, and iron divination and healing staffs from the Yoruba people of Nigeria.
  • Ethiopian Christian Orthodox crosses.
  • Somali bridal silver jewelry.
  • Copper alloy sacred objects of Tusian, Gan and Lobi peoples of Burkina Faso.

 

The book "Peace, Power and Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa" (Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art / University Press of Florida, March 2020) will be edited by Harn Curator of African Art, Susan Cooksey, and include essays by: Jodi Berman, Elisabeth Rios-Brooks, Bolaji Campbell, Susan Cooksey, Jean-Baptiste Coulibaly, Kate Ezra, Rebecca Fenton, Jacopo Gnisci, Babatunde Lawal, Amanda Maples, Patrick McNaughton, Nicholas Nikis, Adjanie Ofunniyin, Philip Peek, Constantine Petridis, Robin Poynor and Raymond Silverman.

 

 

 

 
 
Image credits
 
Slide 1
Left: Kota-Obamba or Mindimbu artist, Gabon, Reliquary guardian figure (mbulu ngulu), 19th century, brass, copper, wood, collection of Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass, Photograph by Vincent Girier Dufournier
Right: Somali artist, Somalia, Porte Qur’an necklace, 18th - 19th century, silver, gift of the Katheryne and John Loughran Foundation for Cultural Understanding, photograph by Randy Batista
Slide 2
Left: Gan artist, Burkina Faso, Funerary bracelet (bĩgè sĩmba), 19th century, copper alloy, collection of Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass, Photograph by Vincent Girier Dufournier
Right: Edo/ Bini artist, Benin, Nigeria, Bracelet, 19th century, bronze, collection of Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass, Photograph by Vincent Girier Dufournier
Slide 3
Left: Yoruba artist, Nigeria, Paired Male/female Edan Ògbóni/Òsùgbó figures, 19th century, iron, brass/bronze, collection of Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass, Photograph by Vincent Girier Dufournier
Middle: Ethiopian artist, Ethiopia, Processional Cross, 15th-16th century, brass, bronze copper rivets and shaft, solder, partial gift of Richard Faletti and Museum purchase, funds provided by the Caroline Julier and James G. Richardson Acquisition Endowment, Michael A. Singer, and the David A. Cofrin Art Acquisition Endowment, photograph by Randy Batista
 Right: Lower Niger, Nigeria, Bell with human face, pre-15th century, bronze, collection of Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass, Photograph by Vincent Girier Dufournier