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Peace, Power, and Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa


Susan Cooksey,  editor

Enduring, transformative, and aesthetically powerful, African metal works are among the most technologically sophisticated and historically significant objects created in their times. This publication and the exhibition it accompanies consider metal arts in sub-Sharan Africa from ancient times to the twenty-first century not only for their beauty and sophistication but for their roles in sustaining and advancing human well-being by strengthening leadership, enhancing spirituality, and energizing social and cultural interactions.

Essays in this book delve into the creation, use, and interpretation of metal objects, illuminating how African artists, working primarily with copper and its alloys, gold, iron, and silver, deftly manipulated both the substance and supernatural properties of metal. Their creations, including jewelry and other personal adornments, weapons, tools, regalia, and sacred sculpture, illustrated in this book, reveal mastery of metallurgical processes and scintillating artistic vision.

Published by Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida

SIGHTLINES on Peace, Power & Prestige: Metal Arts in Africaon view at Bard Graduate Center September 29 through December 31, reimagines a set of metal works previously displayed in Peace, Power & Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa, a touring exhibition curated by Susan Cooksey, former curator of African art at the University of Florida’s Harn Museum of Art.


Table of Contents

Lee Anne Chesterfield

Susan Cooksey

Strength, Majesty, and Beauty
John Dintenfass

Introduction: Peace, Power, and Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa
Susan Cooksey

1. Akan Metal Arts, Yesterday and Today
Raymond Silverman

2. Brass Amulets and Spiritual Mediation in Southwestern Burkina Faso
Susan Cooksey

3. Brilliant Women: Senufo Masquerade Brass Staffs and Female Presence
Susan Cooksey

4. Sculptures That Act
Rebecca Fenton

5. The Character of Mande Blacksmiths and Iron Sculpture
Patrick McNaughton

6. Ironworking of the Blacksmiths in Tusian Society
Pon Jean-Baptiste Coulibaly

7. Forging Conections to the Spirit World: Dogon Art in Iron
Kate Ezra

8. Radiant Beauty and Social Substance in Malian Masquerade
Rebecca Fenton

9. Tuareg Metal Arts and Artists: Negoiating Class, Gender, and Spiritual Power
Elisabeth Rios-Brooks

10. Sañse and Self-Fashioning: Gold Jewlery. Women, and Ensemble in Urban Senegal
Amanda M. Maples

11. Rings of Power on the Liberian Coast
Rebecca Fenton

12. Adorned with Power: A Dan Brass Beaded Necklace
Susan Cooksey

13. Fon Metal Sculpture: From the Sacred to the Secular
Susan Cooksey

14. Yoruba Metal Arts
Boljali Campbell

15. Strong Like Iron, Durable Like Brass: Form, Meaning, and Material Metaphor in the Art of the Yoruba Ogbóni/Osugbó Society
Babtunde Lawal

16. An Ironwork Legacy in America: African and African Diasporic Traditions in the Work of Master Blacksmiths Philip Simmons and Yaw Owusu Shangofemi
Jody Berman & Ade Ofunniyin

17. A Face for the God of Iron in North Central Florida: The Altar to Ogun at Ifalola
Robin Poynor

18. A Lower Niger Bronze Bell Head
Philip M. Peek

19. X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy Characterization of a Bell from Lower Niger Delta
Mariia Stozhkova & Juan Claudio Nino

20. Walking with Pride: Igbo Women's Anklets
Elisabeth Rios-Brooks

21. Sounds and Shapes of Ritual in the Cross Country River Region
Rebecca Fenton

22. Forging Value: West African Currencies and Objects of Prestige
Rebecca Fenton

23. Iron and Copper Regalia of the Benue River Valley
Susan Cooksey

24. For Pleasure and Prestige: Bamum Pipes
Susan Cooksey

25. Copper and Expression of Power and Prestige in Central Africa
Nicolas Nikis

26. The Power of Speech: Central African Ceremonial Axes and Adzes
Constantine Petridis

27. Perfectly Served: Banyankole and Banyarwanda Milk Vessels
Susan Cooksey

28. Christian Metalwork in Early Solomonic Ethipoia: Production, Function, and Symbolism
Jacopo Gnisci

29. Embellished Ethiopian Shields
Susan Cooksey




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