African Royal Court Art

African Royal Court Art

by Michele Coquet, Jane Marie Todd
     
 

In this visually stunning work, anthropologist Michèle Coquet presents the power and the brilliance of African court arts. Grounding her analysis in the social and historical context of traditional royalty systems, Coquet examines the diverse roles played by artisans, nobles, and kings in the production and use of royal objects. From the precolonial kingdoms

Overview

In this visually stunning work, anthropologist Michèle Coquet presents the power and the brilliance of African court arts. Grounding her analysis in the social and historical context of traditional royalty systems, Coquet examines the diverse roles played by artisans, nobles, and kings in the production and use of royal objects. From the precolonial kingdoms of the Edo and the Yoruba, the Ashanti and the Igbo, Coquet reconstructs from a comparativist view the essential cultural connections between art, representation, and the king.

More than ornamentation, royal objects embodied the strength and status of African rulers. The gold-plated stools of the Ashanti, the delicately carved ivory bracelets of the Edo-these objects were meant not simply to adorn but to affirm and enhance the power and prestige of the wearer. Unlike the abstract style frequently seen in African ritual art, realism became manifest in courtly arts. Realism directly linked the symbolic value of the object-a portrait or relief-with the physical person of the king. The contours of the monarch's face, his political and military exploits rendered on palace walls, became visual histories, the work of art in essence corroborating the ruler's sovereign might.

Richly illustrated and wonderfully detailed, Coquet's influential volume offers both a splendid visual presentation and an authoritative analysis of African royal arts.

"[This] beautiful and exciting book emphasizes the skillful court art of the Benin, Dahomey, and the Kongo. A very interesting and unusual approach to the art of the continent that has been too easily situated 'outside of history.'"—Le Figaro

Editorial Reviews

Le Figaro
[This] beautiful and passionate book emphasizes the learned court art of Benin, Dahomey, and the Kongo. A very interesting and unusual approach to the art of the continent that has been too easily situated 'outside of history'.
Library Journal
French anthropologist Coquet explains the social and historical contexts of the arts of Africa's major kingship systems. Her text begins with an explanation of the hierarchical political systems of primarily West and Central Africa. Subsequent chapters focus on the role of "portraits," how art functions to record history, the use of objects to symbolize social position, and archaeological evidence of past kingdoms and empires. The text is accompanied by field and object photographs as well as useful maps. While Coquet's book is an admirable scholarly effort, Suzanne Blier's recent The Royal Arts of Africa: The Majesty of Form (LJ 5/15/98) offers more incisive analyses of the manifold roles of royal art and provides a more diverse range of examples in words and illustrations. Nevertheless, Coquet's volume is recommended for libraries with an interest in art or African studies.--Eugene C. Burt, Art Inst. of Seattle Lib.
Booknews
French anthropologist Coquet examines the production and use of royal objects in a wide range of media among the precolonial kingdoms of the Edo and the Yoruba, the Ashanti, and the Igbo, putting them into social and historical contexts and looking at the cultural connections among art, representation, and sovereignty. Her study dispels the notion that African art is primarily abstract. The illustration, most in black and white, accompany rather than dominate the text. Originally published as Arts de cour en Afrique noire by Societe Nouvell Adam Biro. in 1996. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226115757
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
12/01/1998
Edition description:
1
Pages:
189
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

Ecrivain
More than a magnificent album, this book is a rare chance to become better acquainted with an ancient human civilization. The art of these neglected African realms enables Coquet to touch not only on dance, textiles, embroidery, sculpture, music, and goldsmithing but also on the African spirit.
— Ecrivain

Meet the Author

Jane Marie Todd has translated some seventy books, including Writing, Law, and Kingship in Old Babylonian Mesopotamia, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >