Yoruba Art and Language by Abiodun, Rowland

Yoruba Art and Language by Abiodun, Rowland

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Cambridge University Press, 01 January 2014

Hardback 386 PAGES

The Yorùbá was one of the most important civilizations of sub-Saharan Africa. While the high quality and range of its artistic and material production have long been recognized, the art of the Yorùbá has been judged primarily according to the standards and principles of Western aesthetics. In this book, which merges the methods of art history, archaeology, and anthropology, Rowland Abíọ́dún offers new insights into Yorùbá art and material culture by examining them within the context of the civilization's cultural norms and values and, above all, the Yorùbá language. He begins by establishing the importance of the concepts of oríkì, the verbal and visual performances that animate ritual and domestic objects, such as cloth, sculpture, and dance; and àṣẹ, the energy that structures existence and that transforms and controls the physical world. Both concepts served as the guiding principles of Yorùbá artistic production. Through analyses of representative objects, Abíọ́dún demonstrates how material culture expresses the key philosophical notions at the heart of the Yorùbá worldview. Abíọ́dún draws on his fluency and prodigious knowledge of Yorùbá culture and language to dramatically enrich our understanding of Yorùbá civilization and its arts. The book includes a companion website with audio clips of the Yoruba language, helping the reader better grasp the integral connection between art and language in Yoruba culture.