|Gavin Jantjes, South Africa Untitled (1990)|
Now, in the latest major exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art entitled African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, curators have put together an impressive showing of how African artists haved used the universal language of astronomical art to help explain:
- the formation of creation stories and religion
- the cycle of life, death, and rebirth
- the forecasting and marketing of seasons and agricultural cycles
- the planning of communities and navigating both on land and at sea
|Egyptian tribute to the sun god|
Tribes and cultures from many of the 55 countries that make up Africa today are represented in the comprehensive exhibition, which includes masks, figures, crafts, weavings, and more modern art forms such as painting and video.
|Plank mask ceremony|
Ghana's Akan people used celestial sayings to convey appropriate behavior within their community. Such as this one: "Like the star, the child of the Supreme Being, I rest with God and do not depend upon myself [alone]."
The Nafana people of Mali were captivated by the moon,, contending that "without the moon there would be no life" and painting their faces in white designs and using round moon masks to symbolize the power of the moon over man's life.
Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
If you are interested in the cosmos, the art exhibition here is just part of a real star-show here in the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. You can also view Cosmic Collisions, Infinity Express, Journey to the Stars, One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure, and The Stars Tonight at the National Air and Space Museum; The Evolving Universe and Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt at the National Museum of Natural History; and Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World at the National Museum of the American Indian.