|Title||Yoruba: An Art of Life|
|Author||Daniel Mato, Ph.D. and Chelsea Cooksey|
|Number of Pages||64|
Soft UV coated cover, 64 pages, 50 full color photographs Includes Bibliographic references 8.5 x 11 inches.
Beautifully written and illustrated catalogue that explores the rich artistic tradition of the Yoruba of Nigeria and the Benin Republic. Through 50 colored photographs a number of artistic mediums are explored—wood sculptures and masks, costumes, divination equipment, beadwork, and colored textiles.
This brightly colored catalogue is an in-depth exploration of the excellent Bennett-Luther Collection of Yoruba Art (which was exhibited at the South Dakota Art Museum) detailing how the Nigerian cults of the Ere Ibeji, Epa, Gelede and Egungun have incorporated one or several of these mediums into their artistic repertoire, adding an aesthetic dimension to ritual and religious practice. See an excerpt from the catalogue below- **In the region of West Africa, known today as Nigeria, the Yoruba have lived as an urban people for centuries, with cities dating as early as the tenth century A.D.
Yoruba oral histories of these times have been confirmed by archaeological excavations of numerous centers of population, the most important being Ile Ife, the place where the Yoruba are said to have first emerged as a people under kings known as Oni. This lineage of kings constitutes the longest line of rulers recorded. It was at Ife that Yoruba art had its beginnings, in the form of realistically cast bronze sculptures of their rulers, some of which date back to the eleventh century A.D. In succeeding centuries Yoruba art came to be known for its religious and ritual ties, and different art forms became identified with the various deities.Today the rich tradition of art among the Yoruba is expressed in a number of different mediums -- wood sculptures and masks, figures and ritual equipment; ironwork and brass casting; beadwork; paint; and colored textiles. Each cult has incorporated one or several of these artistic mediums into its repertoire, adding an aesthetic dimension to ritual and religious practice. Thus the central feature of Yoruba art is its service to religion and the modes of honoring the pantheon of gods gives them character, personality and visual being. Two of the most prominent deities in Yoruba religious art are Eshu, known as the trickster god, and Shango, the god of thunder and lightning.Unlike European art styles, which change frequently over the course of history, the traditional sculptural forms of the Yoruba have changed very little through extended periods of time. Where change is found it is usually the result of creative individuals interpreting traditional images, symbols and iconography. Influences of Islam and Europe may also be observed, brought about through a process of assimilation and incorporation that acknowledges change while maintaining the essence of established Yoruba images. It must be also noted that long periods of apprenticeship for young carvers instills the principle of adherence to established imagery and style. This system of apprenticeship produces master sculptors who emulate the style of their mentors. As his career progresses, the Yoruba artist will build his own sculptural signature, adding stylistic differences and nuances, in an expression of individual creativity.