Characteristics of African art and its types

Characteristics of African art and its types

African art is one of the most diverse and oldest types of art. It is the art that embodies everything spiritual, emotional or imaginative about the African continent. African art is distinguished by the fact that it tells very large historical traces which take us on an immense historical and geographical journey. The term African art designates the art of sub-Saharan Africa because of its great difference with the cultures of the Mediterranean region, notably Islamic and Caucasian, of West Africa, of Central Africa, of Africa from the East and South Africa.

Characteristics of African art:

African art has characteristics in its creation, the most important of which is that it is an art and that it was created for a specific function.

Contact with a spiritual or cult world. Many types of African art were created for use in religious rituals, the most famous of which were masks and idols, until their worship and appreciation reached the greatest levels. This is one of the biggest differences with the northern world. Africa, especially Islamic countries, which prohibit it. African artworks had more of a guest role than a guest. It is an aesthetic work of art and used in specific ceremonies such as marriage and hunting, or jewelry or even weapons, some of which were only intended for display or use in ceremonies .

The commemoration of an event is a social ceremony in which several types of arts are used, including graffiti and musical instruments. It may be a major ceremony involving the use of gold coins and other decorative forms.

Dyeing and decorating a living being, including animals, to present it as a sacrifice, or drawing on the body or even tattooing and many other methods used such as perforation on the skin.

Types of African art:

There are many types of African art


Figurative sculptures

Metal work







Gold works

Drawing in African art, then its use as applied art, the most famous of which was its use on rock faces, and its function was to tell stories, record events, even send messages to the future , to then use it in sculpture. , pottery, walls and even the body and skin. What sets African art apart from others is what is behind it. The creation of these pieces conveys stories, meanings and importance to both African society and culture.

Indeed, African art is very demanding in execution. The artist must fulfill several things, including functionality, aesthetics and meeting emotional, religious or societal demands. For this reason, African art has been criticized since ancient times, like much in the field of art. The world viewed it as a craft rather than an art, as it is based primarily on functionality rather than beauty, and most ancient African arts were created by artisans, particularly jewelry, ceramics, and ironwork, like most others. some of them are not built on drawing and beauty, which is the opposite of what we know in other arts.

It is one of the most important types of art that requires an in-depth study of history, traditions and political, social and cultural contexts. It is also one of the rare arts that has remained true to its richness, methods and vibrant colors. without being influenced by European art. On the contrary, it tries to be contemporary in its own way, and today we see efforts in this direction. Since 2020, a group of African artists has emerged, faithful to its approach of transforming African art into internationalism.

Creating beauty with functionality, combining art with life and drawing inspiration from nature has made African art very distinctive, even unique, and this has been helped by the diversity with which Africa flourishes , so much so that the types of art according to each region cannot be limited, and they are very diverse in contemporary art. All forms are still used.

Learn more:

- What is tribal art? The origins and history of tribal art and its characteristics, Tribal art

-Primitive art, its definition and characteristics, the primitive art movement and 

-Famous ancient artistic objects List of the most famous antiques of all time

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