African Art
March 27, 2003 6:30 AM   Subscribe

The G.I. Jones Photographic Archive of Southeastern Nigerian Art and Culture. 'This is an archive of digitized photographs depicting the arts and cultures of southeastern Nigeria. The collection includes examples from Ibibio, Igbo, Ijo and Ogoni speaking peoples. All of the photographs were taken in the 1930s by the late G.I. Jones, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge. The majority of the images are from the Igbo speaking regions where Jones conducted most of his research. The materials included here represent only a sample of the complete Jones collection. The photographs are unique for the creative brilliance of the art represented, the quality of the photography itself, and the cultural and historical significance of photographic records from this time period in Nigeria.'
Some related links :-
American Museum Congo Expedition 1909-1915. A truly interesting site, which includes field notes, photographs, watercolours, historical maps, anthropoligical objects, and so forth.
A Clickable Map of the Art of the African Continent, via Africa: The Art of a Continent.
The Woods Collection of African Art, with another clickable map.
Nigerian Stories.
posted by plep (11 comments total)
Excellent post. There was a window of time when the modern world discovered the ancient world when planes, trains and automobiles opened up dark continents east and west and we had an opportunity to see cultures first hand. Much of that is lost now and we must use the information gleamed from archives like this to decipher what is forever lost.

Not just art. For example, nutritional anthropology is the science of discovering what "traditional" peoples ate and how it affected their health. We know many traditional people lived very long lives and the question becomes what did they eat? Much of that wisdom and knowledge is lost, wisdom these people learned over thousands of years of trial and error that would be impossible to duplicate in a laboratory looking at molecules. In the 1930s some scientists did travel the world and catalog some of this information and it's the only records we have.
posted by stbalbach at 6:41 AM on March 27, 2003

I especially like these photographs - a doll, and a little boy with a doll. I'd love to find out more about these wooden urns - the description states that the technique is to cut a piece out of the side to enable one to hollow the interior and then replace it.
posted by iconomy at 7:32 AM on March 27, 2003

stbalbach :- I've mentioned it in another thread, but the Pitt Rivers Museum is an absolutely tremendous place based on exactly what you say - scholars who travelled the world at the end of the 19th and early 20th century, collecting objects - not just art, but everyday items - religious objects, children's toys, footwear, clothing, gambling equipment, food utensils, tattooing and piercing equipment, drugs paraphernalia, fetishes - you name it. Documenting the many ways that -used- to exist for being human, profound and trivial.

iconomy :- yes, that is interesting! I'd like to know more about it too!
posted by plep at 8:47 AM on March 27, 2003

Great heaps of quality stuff here, the plep signature style - thanks!

Another terrific anthropology museum is the Parisian Musee de l'Homme though I can assure you their website leaves much to be desired...but they do indeed have a wonderful collection of African art and cultural artifacts, as well many other cultures.

Check out the interesting collection of topically relevant Google ads on this thread too!
posted by madamjujujive at 10:49 AM on March 27, 2003

Checking out the different kinds of Google ads on the different threads makes for an interesting pastime. :)
posted by plep at 11:01 AM on March 27, 2003

Speaking of clickable, and Africa: click languages - fascinating! I'm hoping to stumble across an audio file.

different kinds of Google ads on the different threads makes for an interesting pastime

I've been tempted to make screen captures of a few of the more ironic or apropos ones ;)
posted by iconomy at 1:17 PM on March 27, 2003

Iconomy :- There was a thread on the 'ancestral languages' article a few days back, and Languagehat has written about it. Both the thread and Languagehat's piece are well worth a look.

In what may well be an example of cultural exchange :- a number of the Nguni languages of South Africa also use the clicking sounds more commonly associated with the Khoisan languages. (Black South African tribes are mostly in two major groups, the Nguni and the Sotho, although there are a few smaller ones, such as the Venda, which fall into neither category. The Nguni are the Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, Ndebele and a number of other major groups, mostly living in the lowlands of the eastern part of South Africa; as opposed to the Sotho, who tend to live further inland, on higher land). For instance, the 'kwa' sound in KwaZulu (or 'Zululand') is a click (although this is rarely heard among people who speak European languages, as it's a bit hard to get your tongue around). I don't think this is common in other Bantu languages, hence it may well have come from exchanges between the Nguni peoples and the Khoisan.
posted by plep at 2:00 PM on March 27, 2003

Great post, plep!

iconomy: That Times article was discussed here, and although the languages themselves are fascinating, the genetic stuff is craparoonie. Here's a list of Khoisan languages from the Rosetta project; I tried to search for ones with audio files, but these don't seem to have any. Here, however, is a page about a CD of now-extinct Khoisan languages recorded in 1936 that has a RealAudio link; enjoy!
posted by languagehat at 2:01 PM on March 27, 2003

Wow - ask and ye shall receive! Thanks, you two - I somehow missed that metafilter post. I should have known that languagehat would have already had a post or two on this. And now I have a new favorite word - craparoonie ;)
posted by iconomy at 4:03 PM on March 27, 2003

What a wonderful post. I especially enjoyed the mask links, and the Congo expedition, and, well, everything.

Posts like this make me wish that the internet were more permanent and less fleeting. What I mean is, I'd love to make this a part of a reliable library, but websites disappear far too often. Still: fascinating.

Thanks, plep! Naturally. :)
posted by hama7 at 5:46 AM on March 28, 2003

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