Just as in any continent, artwork can be used to interpret the diverse culture and history of the Africa. The brass plaque depicted on the right, was part of a series of works created to adorn the exterior of the royal palace in Benin City during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The plaques were used to tell complex narratives of Benin society. The creators wanted to communicate the hierarchy and status within their society, as seen by the physical features of each figure. The largest figure, in the forefront, is the one with the greatest authority is depicted as the warrior chief, while the soldiers by his side are of lesser rank.
African Art Ideas and Resources
- Overview of Introduction to African Art
- Resource List “Using Images to Affirm Cultural Identities” featuring museum collections of images of African art and artifacts and much more.
- Using Photos to Teach About Africa
- Lesson Plan: African Crafts
- Image Comparisons
- Mali and Djenne Figures (National Museum of African Art)
- African Masks in Context, a teaching resource from the British Museum
- University of Iowa Art and Life in Africa series, which offers a vast collection of essays, chapters, and contextual information about different African cultures and art.
Since Covid-19 has brought the in-person museum industry to a standstill, online museums are an excellent resources of African artifacts which you can curate and tailor to your lessons. Google Arts and Culture now has a vast collection of online museum exhibits on Africa, from the world’s leading museums. You can even do a walk through of some of the museums using Google Streetview.
See online exhibits of African artifacts on Google Arts and Culture here.