Spent the day photographing some masks with shop owner and friend Ibrahim. While we captured some photographs we listened to Fatou one of his favorite Mali musicians, while receiving a lesson in collecting African Art, historic interpretations, value and how to evaluate the age of a mask. Thank you Ibrahim!
Black Tea from Africa.
“Works of art in most of Africa serve to support life-sustaining activities, physical as well as spiritual life. We think of these activities as agriculture, religion, human fertility and well-being, education, governance and authority. The rural peoples living in the areas of the ancient empires were mainly farmers and herders who lived in self-governing communities. Each community or ethnic group had its own artists and crafts people to create works of art for rituals and secular activities and objects for daily use, such as farming tools, pottery, furniture or clothing.” Ibrahim Diallo from Mali West Africa
In Africa, these quills are traditionally kept for good luck or used for ornament. They are also often used to make musical instruments, and were once used as containers for gold dust.
The warlike history of the Songye influences the confrontational nature of their art. Songye shields, once a vital part of the the warrior’s gear, are still hand-carved of wood, and often include the intimidating face and violently zig-zagging grooves that would once have frightened the enemy in battle. These grooved patterns are typical of Songye pieces, and may represent the scarifications that Songye warriors cut into their faces. They are among the most belligerent of all African masks. Songye Music (here)
You can follow Ibrahim and his Fine Art Gallery on Facebook:
Mali Fine Art Gallery
All imagery by Erin Ashford Photography LLC