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African Headdress

Essay by   •  May 9, 2011  •  Essay  •  571 Words (3 Pages)  •  891 Views

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Art is a very important part of the Africans way of life. African's have created many works of art using natural materials such as clay, and wood. Their sculptures are usually carved and decorated for ceremonies and religious purpose. Elaborate head coverings are also used for spiritual purposes. African headdresses are easy to identify because of their intricate details and bright colors. Headdresses are use for many reasons in the African culture such as peacekeepers for the uncanny world of the dead and the world of ancestors. The head coverings were often worn by dancers to bring energy and life to the ceremony.

These skillful works of art usually depict the person who will be wearing the headdresses personality and physical traits. It is most commonly made with wood. The wood is left to dry in the sun for several days and then it is examined for any cracks. Artwork is produced with various materials such as an adze (similar to an ax) to cut and shape the main features, a chisel to work out the distinctive parts and leaves to help smooth out rough surfaces. Then the artist begins to carve the wood with these materials to make the design he/she prefers. Africans believed that wood was a living material that should be valued by creating beautiful works of art. The carving is painted with charcoal if the color black is desired, vegetables and trees were used for vibrant colors and clay was used to give a white effect. The headdresses must be handled with care because of the intricate beading used on some of the artwork and it also must be preserved properly because wood decays over time.

The headdress I decided to research is called a Chi Wara headdress. Chi Wara depicts an antelope create by the Bamana Tribe in Africa. This mask was used to teach young men about agriculture and community morals. The antelope was worshiped as a mythical farming animal in the Bamana tribe because they believed he taught crop growing. Chi Wara can be either male or females. The females are usually accompanied by a baby antelope and have straight horns while the males have curved horns. It often represents the sun because it is the offspring of the sky goddess. Its body is often elongated with short legs similar to the aardvark who is the burrower of the farm according to the Bamana Tribe. The zigzag patterns on the sides of animal represent the water that flows through the crops. The colors of the Chi Wara headdress can vary from light



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