An Appraisal of Religious Art and Symbolic Beliefs in the Traditional African Context

  • BOJ Omatseye
  • KO Emeriewen


African arts stem from their themes of symbolism, functionalism and utilitarianism, which describe African art as quite multi-functional. This however does not say that some African art does not have its underlying aesthetic import. In Africa, by virtue of their belief system, their spiritual practices have led to the creation of new artistic imageries. This is in the sense that their various artistic traditions are drawn upon as sources of inspiration. Significantly, indigenous African religion have had a greater influence on art objects-in statues, masks or other forms for use in rituals and worship. The Masquerade out at seasons could have an array of display in headdress, dance steps, art forms and objects may be ritually charged. As sonorous as the songs may sound, they carry messages beyond the rhythm. Essentially, figures, statues and shrine arts, and verbal and non-verbal arts in most African cultures are largely functional. These images have religio-metaphysical themes, which serve as the focal point of power, which links the African’s physical world to his beliefs on his essence and existence. Indeed the African art reflect images of ancestral spirits, and pantheons of indigenous gods and goddesses.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-0083
print ISSN: 1994-9057