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Art and Crafts

The diversity of the African traditional Art has fascinated many artists and western collectors because of its extraordinary imagination and its great intensity. The African art reveals a constant representation of the sacred spirit and also complex rituals such as: ceremonies where pure contrasts with impure, perpetuation of lineage, legitimate alliances, unity and cohesion of the clan.

A truly passionate of African art must respect the piece of art in its integrality; for instance, accept the existence of dried blood strains collected during ritual sacrifices. According to collectors these blood strains give a magical power and esthetical aspect that others pieces of art do not have. Among African artistic objects one can also find artisanal objects such as, locks, ladders, weapons, personal objects (dolls, amulets), decorative statues carved for European colonizers in the 1950s and 1960s

Nowadays, fake African art is booming in the African continent.  African craftsman and artisans have mastered their skills in aging new objects. It is becoming very hard to find a genuine piece of art in the African continent. Genuine African pieces of art are mostly found in Europe in museums, collectors’ houses such as Belgium collector Willy Mestach, and families of ancient Europeans colonizers. Because it is becoming very difficult to find original art objects, we are witnessing many cases of robbery and trafficking of these rare pieces of art. In the years 1990, traffickers robbed hundreds of « waka » (funerary steles of Konso tribe made of carved wood, placed on the kings graves)

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The African governments don’t bother reacting because they do not express much interest for the African art market, whereas a resolution taken by UNESCO prohibits since the beginning of the 1990s to ship out masks and statues from the African continent. But in reality, neither UNESCO, nor the African governments have the means to stop the art trafficking. Africa remains however a natural source of tremendous art pieces of major importance. In this vast continent there is still thousands of thousand-year-old graves containing thousands of objects which are up to now undiscovered. Some African museums, try to organize excavations in order to keep the most exceptional pieces and keep them in African museums.

Today African art is an inexhaustible mine of inspiration for the creators who re-create it. But “out of his of his context, not only geographical but also social, the object loses its cultural identity. Of the panoply of “colonial” to the wall of the “collector” today associated with the contemporary art, one tends to forget the African object-relationship with its original cultural context, disregarding obvious ethnological involvement.

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