Main Article Content

African Traditional Sculptures: An Appraisal of Classification Paradigms

AM Diakparomre


Understanding and appreciating traditional African sculptures was one of the early problems encountered by strangers to the producing culture when they first encountered the works, and when the study of these works of art became intense in the early years of the 20th century. This problem was partly due to the variety of styles in which these sculptures were expressed, the volume of sculpture-production in the continent, and the numerous uses to which the sculptures were put. In an effort to simplify the understanding and appreciation of these objects, scholars have attempted various forms of classification. Two main approaches have been adopted in the classification efforts. These are the aesthetic (form and structure) and the ethnological (function) approaches. These approaches, however, seem to be bedeviled by inhering weaknesses. In this paper, both approaches (the aesthetic and the ethnological) are appraised and their hermitic and misleading characters are highlighted. It is then suggested that the aesthetic and ethnological approaches needed to be complimented by a historical consideration in order to arrive at the formulation of classification paradigms that take into account the degree of mobility and interaction that took place in the continent in the historical past.

Keywords: African, Traditional Sculpture, Classification, Paradigms

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-0083
print ISSN: 1994-9057