African Arts

Various arts have been highly developed in parts of Africa for thousands of years. The oldest known African artworks are prehistoric paintings that have been found in the Tassili range in the Sahara on rocks and on the walls of caves and rock shelters. The architecture, painting, and sculpture of ancient Egypt are world famous. Today, many African peoples create fine examples of beadwork, basketry, pottery, leatherwork, metalwork, weaving, and textile dyeing. Art is part of everyday life in Africa and excellent craftwork can be seen in tools and household items as well as in decorative ornaments and ceremonial objects.
The art of northern Africa differs from that of the rest of the continent. In the north, artists create beautiful works in a distinct style called Islamic art. Outstanding examples of this style are the many magnificent mosques located throughout northern Africa. The artists of northern Africa are also known for their superb textiles, metalwork, glassware, and other craft work.
African sculpture includes figures, masks, decorated boxes, and various other objects for ceremonial and everyday use. Many early African sculptures were made of wood and because wood is perishable, a few of these works remain. Some excellent examples of early African sculpture are made of bronze, ivory, and a kind of earth enware called terra cotta. The oldest known African sculptures are terra-cotta figures created about A.D. 500 by the Nok culture of southern Nigeria.
Few people outside Africa knew about African sculptures until the 1900’s. Soon, it became a major influence in Western art. The imaginative designs and simple, dramatic forms of African sculpture influenced such famous artists as Georges Braque of France, Henry Moore of Great Britain, and Pablo Picasso of Spain.
Today, African sculptors work in wood or various metals and follow the traditional styles of their ethnic group. Many of their art works symbolize


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