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5 Misconceptions About African Art and Culture

Wed, Apr 25, 2018 @ 02:37 PM

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Even though we are seeing a remarkable rise in popularity of African art and culture here in the Western world, it is amazing how much misinformation and misconception still exists. Let's take a look at some of these misconceptions and hopefully gain a better understanding and appreciation.

Misconception #1

Africa is a country

Let’s start with perhaps the biggest piece of misinformation that exists about Africa – it is not a country. It’s a continent and it is comprised of more than 50 distinct countries. Now that this is out of the way, let’s take a look at some other misunderstandings.

Misconception #2

We can’t do anything to help

Many assume that there is little we can do to help and assume the entire continent is like what we see in commercials on TV. There are many ways that we can help regions of Africa that are in need. Zawadee gives back in three ways . . .

If you'd like to know more about how and why Zawadee is committed to supporting the empowerment of African artisans and entrepreneurs, please read Our Story.

Misconception #3

Africa is homogenous

Africa is one of the most diverse continents. This diversity is reflected in the multitude of arts and unique cultures. In general, there are five main regions: North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa. Art collectors and aficionados often look for African art based on these regional divides, however, distinctly different cultures and artistic expression occur within each region as well.  

Misconception # 4

Africa is primitive

Many people think the entire continent is primitive, poor and war stricken. Not true at all! There are many progressive areas, and African art, culture, architecture and fashion have evolved significantly over the years.

While African artisans are perhaps best known for their traditional wood carved sculptures and masks, African art continues to evolve. The growing community of contemporary artists and their creativity that are on display in art shows and galleries around the world is the proof of this constantly changing, constantly developing creativity.

Misconception #5

African art is cursed

Many examples of African culture have spiritual meaning and can be associated with mythological and cultural spirits, namely the Shetani.  Every piece, whether mask, sculpture, carving, painting, etc., is meant to communicate an aspect of culture, history, heritage.  And, as with any artistic expression, some are lighter and more holistically spiritual and some are darker - communicating a more negative slant.a man protecting his female companion from a shetani spirit

The hand carved sculpture (above) is a good example of the simultaneous positive and negative messages conveyed by Shetani piece - a man protecting his female companion from a shetani spirit.

Hopefully,we've helped you gain a better appreciation for African art and culture.

Are you ready to Bring Africa Home by adding a piece of African art to your collection or home décor?

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Penny Baldwin-French

Written by Penny Baldwin-French

Penny is the Chief Marketing Officer for Zawadee - Bring Africa Home. She enjoys bringing unique and beautiful products to market, is an avid kayaker and enjoys all things marketing.

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