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Creating an African Theme

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 10 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
Creating An African Theme African Masks

There are many motivations for collecting tribal African art, among them are:

  • For their aesthetic expression and craftsmanship
  • For their historical interest
  • For their unique style
  • For investment potential
  • For the sake of preserving artefacts originating in other cultures
  • The excitement of hunting for unique treasures
Whichever is your personal motivation, you will find African art evokes a mystery and pleasure and can add a unique exotic atmosphere to your home.

African Textiles

African textiles were first brought to the western world by Portuguese traders in the 17th century and have been prized ever since for their amazingly varied patterns and fine textures. Different types of hand woven African textiles include:
  • Adinkra- hand printed cloths from the Ashanti region of Ghana.
  • Adire- indigo resist-dyed cloth made by the Yoruba of Nigeria.
  • Asafo- appliqué flags made by the Fante people of coastal Ghana
  • Bogolan- hand painted mud cloth from Mali
  • Indigo- blue dyed cloth from across West Africa
  • Kente- famous strip woven cloth made by the Ashanti people of Ghana
  • Mbuti barkcloth- abstract designs on backcloth made by women from the Ituri forest of Congo
  • Tuareg mats- grass and leather mats from Niger

African Masks

Tribal masks are another way to bring an African feel into your home. Tribal masks have served many fascinating purposes in African culture; some are used for initiation ceremonies, some for the prosecution of wrong doers. Different types of masks you may come across include:
  • Ceremonial masks made by the Fang tribal people that are spread over a vast area along the Atlantic coast line of equatorial Africa and can be found in Cameroon equatorial Guinea and Gabon namely along the bank of the Ogowe river.

  • Warrior masks from central Africa; traditionally used by the warrior people within a tribe as a means to scare their opponents and to identify themselves within a tribe.

  • African Swazi masks. The Zulu tribesman that hand carved these masks are found in KwaZulu Natal in South Africa with the biggest town being Durban. The traditional Zulu artefacts have become a sort after collector's item.

  • Ceremonial Punu masks. The African hand carved ceremonial Punu mask originates from Gabon and are said to have an oriental expression. These Punu masks are hand carved out of wood and set in black and white. The Punu masks oriental look indicates that Chinese people traded and lived in Africa for many years before the European settlers arrived.

  • African iron wood masks. These are hand craved out of the iron wood that originates from Zimbabwe. The masks are smooth polished and set in the natural colour of the orange/red wood. Iron wood is an extremely hard and heavy wood and is used mainly by the Shona carvers of Zimbabwe.

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