Student name: Rabia Mukaddam-Shaik
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Bachelor of Education
In the subject
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AFRICA
SUPERVISOR: ESTELLE McDOWALL
I DECLARE THAT THE ESSAY IS MY OWN WORK AND THAT ALL THE SOURCES THAT I HAVE USED OR QUOTED HAVE BEEN INDICATED AND ACKNOWLEGED BY MEANS OF A COMPLETE REFERENCES.
This essay intends to define the research methods which distinguish the study of early African arts, and I will attempt to apply them to two types of Benin artworks. I will reflect on its uselfuness as well as the problematic aspects of methods on invesigation.
The Kingdom of Benin was one of the most important forest states of West Africa during the precolonial period. Of all west Afrcian states and societies, it is one most mentioned in contemporary European literature. The art of the Kingdom of Benin took the world by surprise in 1897 by the British Punitive expidition, when thousands of its sculptures were seen by outsiders for the first time. The art of Benin is without a doubt predominantly a royal art. Fortunately, when dealing with Benin art there is a fair amount of oral tradition and documentation by European historians for late 15th century. (Visona, 2008). The British forces found huge quantity of elaborate works of art, sophistication of which surpasses any notion of what they were expecting to find the the forested area of southern Nigeria.
Benin art represented the courtly life of the African Kindgom rather that the life of its common tribe members and significantly differ in quality, complexity and style from other art in the region. The first artwork I have chosen is the Brass Plaque depicting an Oba with mudfish legs and the memorial head. It is important for me to identify the society that this plaque was found, so I have compiled a...