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Arts of Africa

2005.259 Zulu Vessel For Serving Beer Izikhamba
Vessel for Serving Beer (Ukhamba), Mid-20th century. KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Gift of Keith Achepohl. 

The collection of the arts of Africa reflects the continent’s great cultural and geographic diversity and deep, complex history through over 500 works of art from the 11th through the 20th century. With strengths in wood carvings from West and Central Africa, the collection encompasses beadwork, masks and sculptures, costume and jewelry, decorative arts, textiles, and ceramic. Among the individual highlights are a pair of headdresses from Mali, a carved tusk from the Benin Kingdom, a veranda post carved by Yoruba artist Olowe of Ise, Fang and Kota reliquaries, and a Koro crest mask. Ranging from bold abstraction to carefully detailed naturalism, the works in the collection attest to the creativity and aesthetic sensibilities of traditional African artists and their patrons and reveal the central role art has played, and continues to play, in the lives of many Africans.

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