Catalogue for the exhibition of African receptacles held at the Dapper Museum in Paris from October 1997 to March 1998.
Emblematic of the richness and profoundness of the cultural and social life in black Africa, receptacles stand as secular evidence of exceptional creations, not only in terms of the creativity of their shapes, but also in terms of their strongly diversified use. Some of these receptacles preserve the nourishment of men, others have substances that conserved and enhanced beauty and health, while others conceal and exalt the power of kings, or gather offerings to the gods. Boxes, cups, vases, jars, spoons, snuff boxes, carved pipes, and statuettes evoke an infinity of daily or ritual actions: annointments of the body, offerings of boiled cereals, millet beer, palm oil or wine, smokey dreams that give access to another time, another place. This book also presents earlier vessels, that are both remarkable and unique, and that testify to Europe’s attraction for the productions commissioned in Africa as early as the 16th century: boxes and salts made of ivory or ostrich eggs often engraved with motifs that follow the commissioner’s taste. However, it is within the intimacy of the more personal artworks, created to satify the community’s needs, with clean designs, materials and scarcely decorated, that the african artists enclose the flavours of the world.
Published by Éditions Dapper, 1997
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