Bishop Museum, Hawaii Exhibition

Editor’s Note: The Winter 2019 Newsletter has been out for only two hours and we need to make a correction. The Bishop Museum did go forward with their exhibition Kini Ke Kua: Transformative Images with the following description: Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – In less than a month, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum will showcase its newest original exhibit, which will explore the relationships between kiʻi (images) and people. “Kini ke Kua: Transformative Images” will invite guests to engage with rare and treasured objects from the museum’s collections and from around the Pacific, in addition to new works from a contemporary indigenous artist specially commissioned for “Kini ke Kua.” This multifaceted presentation will encourage guests to carve their own paths in relationship to these revered objects and art forms. The exhibit will be on display in the Joseph M. Long Gallery from Feb. 16–Sept. 2, 2019.

Ki‘i, which refers to images in the Hawaiian language, are a cornerstone of Hawaiian spirituality and can take many forms. Fashioned from wood, stone and other natural materials, ki‘i become embodiments of deity: representations of akua (gods) and ʻaumākua (personal or family guardians). This exhibit will explore some of the ways in which relationships between kiʻi and people may change over time, how some of those changes have occurred, and to what extent such transformations shaped and reshaped images in different times and contexts.

At the center of this exhibition will be a kiʻi gifted to Bishop Museum by Marc and Lynne Benioff in March of 2018. The wooden image will serve as the focal point of the exhibit, and will contribute to the larger dialogue about relationships, spirituality and kiʻi in Hawaiʻi and as they move through the world. The gifted kiʻi will be presented in conversation with rarely-seen historical collections from Bishop Museum. Included in the exhibit will be an original ink and watercolor drawing from Bishop Museum’s Archives by John Webber (1751–1793), the artist on Captain James Cook’s third and final voyage to the Pacific. An Offering before Captain Cook in the Sandwich Islands, which was later made into engravings and widely distributed in published accounts of the voyage, is one of the first two-dimensional representations of kiʻi.

To further enrich the visitor’s understanding of these images through contemporary indigenous lenses, Bishop Museum invited the Hawaiian carving collective Kūpāʻaikeʻe and the renowned Māori artist Lyonel Grant (of the Ngāti Pikiao and Te Arawa tribes) to present works never previously displayed in a museum setting, and tying present, past and future makers and image shapers together. Looking at the practice of carving and the newly acquired ki‘i through other media, the Hawaiian visual artist, musician and genealogist Douglas Poʻoloa Tolentino was also commissioned by the museum to create four pieces inspired by the collections that explore the relationships between ki‘i and kanaka (people).

The title is fascinating in that it implies a desired dialogue between objects of the past and contemporary objects that will be featured in the exhibition. In the press release there is not apparent effort to identify the Christies piece as either made for traditional use or dating to the 18th or early 19th century. Maybe this is considered to be the best option to deal with international critics that commented to date on Christies failure to follow basic protocol in vetting the piece. It is a fascinating dilemma that may just fade away; however, eventually the Bishop will need to address Adrienne Kaeppler’s very direct statement quoted by the New York Times as “I told them it looked like a similar replica of the sculpture in the British Museum, only smaller,” Dr. Kaeppler said. “I was concerned that its history only went back to the 1930s.” I told them that it looked like a similar replica is for anyone in the field a death sentence for any object.. especially when it comes from Adrienne Kaeppler, the highly regarded scholar/curator from the Smithsonian.

Christies Hawaiian Figure.jpg

"Laser Scans Reveal 60,000 Hidden Maya Structures in Guatemala"

“With the help of a pioneering laser-mapping technology, researchers have made a major archaeological discovery in Guatemala. According to Tom Clynes, who broke the story in a National Geographic exclusive published last week, more than 60,000 Maya structures—among them houses, fortifications, and causeways—have been identified amid the jungles of the Petén region, shaking up what experts thought they knew about the complexity and scope of Maya civilization.


The breakthrough discovery was made using Light Detection and Ranging, or LiDAR, which works by beaming millions of laser pulses from a plane to the ground below. As the wavelengths bounce back, they are measured to create detailed topographical maps. In Guatemala, LiDAR allowed a team of researchers, supported by the PACUNAM Foundation, to map more than 800 square miles of land obscured by dense foliage.

"I think this is one of the greatest advances in over 150 years of Maya archaeology," as Brown University archaeologist Stephen Houston, who collaborated on the project, put it in an interview with the BBC.

Researchers have long thought that Maya cities were largely isolated and self-sustaining. But the LiDAR scans indicate that the Maya civilization was in fact interconnected and sophisticated, not unlike the ancient civilizations of Greece and China. For example, the team discovered a network of wide, elevated causeways that linked Maya cities and may have been used to facilitate trade between different regions.

The scans also suggest that the Maya civilization was much larger than previously believed; estimates had placed the population at around 5 million during the Maya classical period, which spanned from about 250-900 A.D. But the new data suggests that the population may have been as large as 10 to 15 million people, “including many living in low-lying, swampy areas that many of us had thought uninhabitable,” as National Geographic Explorer Francisco Estrada-Belli, who was also affiliated with the project, tells Clynes.

Most of the newly discovered structures appear to be stone platforms that would have supported the pole-and-thatch homes that most Maya lived in, according to Stephanie Pappas of Live Science. The survey also revealed a surprising number of defense systems from walls, to ramparts, to fortresses.

Some of the land mapped with LiDAR technology was unexplored. Other spots had been excavated previously, but LiDAR helped reveal features that archaeologists were not able to see, including a seven-story pyramid covered in vegetation. Archaeologist Tom Garrison tells Pappas of Live Science that the new maps also pointed experts toward a 30-foot fortification wall at a site called El Zotz. "I was within about 150 feet of it in 2010 and didn't see anything," he says.

These findings will be explored in more detail in Lost Treasures of the Maya Snake King, a documentary premiering February 6 on the National Geographic Channel. And the recent survey is only the first phase of PACUNAM’s LiDAR Initiative, which seeks to map more than 5,000 square miles of Guatemala’s lowlands over the course of three years.”

"Intern: Molly McNab"


“Hello friends! 
My name is Molly McNab and I am from the beautiful city of Austin, Texas. I plan to graduate in May from the University of Dallas with a degree in Printmaking and a concentration in Spanish. I have loved art and language since and early age and I look forward to being a working artist after I graduate. 
I spend my free time with family and friends or in the kitchen attempting a new recipe I saw on the Great British Baking show. My love for travel has been instilled in me since an early age, having traveled to Argentina and England to visit family and was furthered during my Rome semester at UD.
I hope to expand my knowledge and love of art while here at Shango and look forward to the opportunities this internship will allow me.”

~Molly McNab

"Intern: Ana Norman"


“My name is Ana Norman and I’m a Dallas native. I’m currently in the midst of my senior year at the University of Dallas, where I am Majoring in Art History with a concentration in Printmaking. I’ve always enjoyed art not only because of its aesthetic, but also because of the story that can be read in each individual piece. Whether an object tells of a cultural tradition, a personal narrative, or a historic event I believe every work of art offers some reflection of its society. After graduation in the spring, I intend on furthering my studies by attending graduate school with a focus on Modern and Contemporary Art and the Art Market. I am excited to embark on this internship and hope to expand my understanding of art’s in today’s world.”

~Ana Norman    

In Memorium - Chris Roy - 1947 - 2019

As you become one of the elders you gain a fondness for stories and thinking about past memories. After leaving the Navy and pronouncing myself an art dealer in 1974, I was seriously out of my league having had a total academic career of three weeks of art history at Tulane University. John Lunsford, Bob Armstrong, Roy Sieber, and Ray Wielgus saw something that motivated them to help me out. I spent hours with Roy Sieber learning and listening as he inspired me to work harder to catch up.


On one occasion I sent Sieber the picture of a beautifully carved Mossi Wango mask. Roy immediately responded saying that he had a young graduate student currently working in the field in Burkina Faso and would send him the photo. This was my first introduction to Chris Roy and a friendship that would last over 40 years. Chris responded immediately with the name of the carver and a pronouncement that my "masterpiece" was made for sale. I, of course, was shocked and turned to Sieber saying that this was not possible as the mask was too beautiful. Roy's response has stayed with me throughout my career. " John you should like it, it was made for you."

As different as Chris and I were both academically and poiltically, we definitely got each other as a result of shared experiences. Chris graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1965 while I completed four years at nearby Williston Academy in Easthampton, Mass in 1963. Our two schools competed against one another and trust me boarding school in the 1960's tends to be a bonding experience.

I made a number of trips to Iowa in the 1970s, 80's and 90's and became good friends with Chris and Nora. I do remember some nice visits to Iowa City and spending some time bantering with Nora on our very diverse political theories. It was great fun and an opportunity to work with Chris and to show him my latest African finds. When it wasn't cool Chris and I both loved the art from what was then Upper Volta and is now Burkina Faso.

In 1992 Chris became the Mellon Adjunct Curator of African Art at the The Dallas Museum of Art. This position required Roy to make monthly trips to Dallas to curate the museum's collection. In 1994 Chris was faced with a major decision. Jean Paul Barbier, a very powerful tribal art collector from Geneva and friend of Margaret McDermott who was the Dallas Museum's most important patron, offered his West Africa gold collection to the museum. As museum's African curator, the decision fell to Chris whether to recommend the purchase. Roy knew exactly what he was going to do; however, we discussed it and agreed the only course was to be honest and ignore the obvious pressure. Chris Roy acknowledged that the collection was just not good enough for the museum and he did not support the acquisition. While there was no stated quid pro quo Chris was asked to leave the museum in 1994. Regardless of how this went down, we do know that Chris Roy showed his true character when he did what he did. And this we should celebrate.

I hope to stay in touch with Nora and will with the help of friends create an appropriate way for the museum in Iowa City on campus to honor Chris. If you are interested in participating contact me.

I already miss Chris and his booming laugh and very wry sense of humor. We laughed a lot and shared many adventures. Losing that leaves a big hole in anybody's life. I have reprinted Chris’ CV in its long form so that we may all appreciate what a major contribution he made to African Art.

And it wouldn’t be right not to share a comment from Nora: “Thank you, John, for your warm memories of Chris, and for sharing his curriculum vitae.  Of course we, his family and friends, know that he was much more than a teacher and scholar.  He always told his students, at the beginning of every course he taught over 40 years, that it was less important that they remember details about each piece of sculpture, or each ethnic group, or each set of cultural traditions, but that it was most important to understand that all cultures have value, that all peoples have intrinsic worth and dignity. Nora”


“CHRISTOPHER D. ROY Iowa City Christopher Damon Roy, of Iowa City, passed away on Feb. 10, 2019, surrounded by his immediate family. Chris was born Sept. 30, 1947, in Ogdensburg, N.Y., to Margaret Adam Snow and George Robert Roy. He grew up in New York City and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1965. In 1965 to 1966, he traveled to Paris, France, to study French and art. When his student visa expired, he took a ferry to North Africa and hitchhiked from Algeria east to Egypt, Israel, Lebanon and then back to Europe. Chris returned to the U.S. to study art and art history at St. Lawrence University, where he met his future wife, Nora White Leonard. After graduation in 1970, he and Nora began their service as Peace Corps volunteers in Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), West Africa, where Chris worked as the director of the Centre Voltaïque Des Artes. He married Nora at the Hôtel de Ville, Ouagadougou, Upper Volta, on Sept. 26, 1970. Chris received his Ph.D. in art history from Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., in 1979, and began teaching African art history in 1978 at the University of Iowa. He leaves his beloved wife, Nora, Iowa City; his son, Nicholas Roy (Jill Scott), Centennial, Colo.; his daughter, Megan Roy (John Dolci), and granddaughter, Sylvia Dolci, Chicago; his sister, Robin Roy Katz (Michael Katz), New York, N.Y., and nephew Edward Katz; his brother, Matthew Roy (Caroline Roy), Lake Placid, N.Y., nieces, Katelin and Emily, and nephews, Robert and Christopher. Those close to him will remember him well for his sincere warmth, delightful wit and bold sense of humor. His robust energy and fascination with the world was contagious. For more than 40 years at the University of Iowa, his love for teaching art history and working with the Stanley Museum of Art was unquestionable. Chris' love of history extended far beyond his professional interests in art. He always had a book open on subjects ranging from the French and American revolutions to the journeys of Captain Cook and Admiral Nelson. He was a frequent patron of Iowa City's treasured bookstore, Prairie Lights, and was an avid storyteller both in his classrooms and one-on-one with the many people he counted as friends. He was a truly excellent photographer, videographer, potter, painter and writer, and leaves behind a collection of hundreds of thousands of photographs of his subjects in the field, and of his beloved family. In addition to his intellectual pursuits, Chris was an accomplished skier, canoeist and outdoor enthusiast. He enjoyed gardening, garden-scale trains and building and flying model airplanes with the Iowa City Aerohawks. The depth and scope of his contributions to the field of African art history are impressive. His careerlong focus on the arts of Burkina Faso is matched by the nearly encyclopedic power of "Art & Life in Africa" (ALA), which he published as a CD-ROM in 1997 and redeveloped as a website in 2014. His impact as a teacher, as the Elizabeth M. Stanley Faculty Fellow of African Art History at the University of Iowa, was no less remarkable. He oversaw the completion of 15 Ph.D. candidates' work, and every fall semester nearly 300 students packed the largest lecture hall at UI's Art Building West to attend his lectures on African art. High enrollment was common for his all courses, including those on Native American, oceanic and pre-Columbian art. His long history of work with the Stanley Museum supported an object-oriented approach complemented by a social history of art that captivated and inspired students for decades. Scholars reviewed his exhibitions for the museum positively for the way in which artistic quality drove his motivations for selection and display, and for the way in which he treated attribution carefully. As a leader in his field, Chris founded the Project for Advanced Study of Art and Life in Africa (PASALA), which provided scholarships for graduate coursework and research in Africa, as well as conferences and publications on African art. In addition to publications on the Stanley Collection and the Bareiss Family Collection, Chris will be remembered equally in relation to the Thomas G.B. Wheelock Collection of art from Burkina Faso, for which he devoted specific scholarship in 2007. "Mossi," which he published for the "Visions of Africa" series in 2015, will remain a standard art historical text on the subject along with his "Art of the Upper Volta Rivers" (1987). Beyond his courses, scholarship, guest lectures, ALA website, 19 films and numerous exhibitions, Chris' YouTube videos on art and life in Africa have reached perhaps the widest audience, with more than 10,000 subscribers and more than 4 million viewers worldwide. It is encouraging to think that the world is a better place because of Chris and all of those touched by his warmth and brilliance. A celebration of Chris' life will be held in Iowa City in the spring. The family request that gifts in memory of Chris be made to the Christopher D. Roy Memorial Fund at the UI Center for Advancement: The fund has been created to provide support to undergraduate art history students for internships at the UI Stanley Museum of Art.”

Published in The Gazette on Feb. 16, 2019


Christopher Roy.3.jpg



Business Address: The School of Art and Art History, The University of Iowa,

Iowa City, IA 52242

Residence: 615 Templin Road, Iowa City, Iowa 52246

Phone: 319/335-1777 (School of Art)

319/354-9033 (home)


Web site

Education: St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York. B.A., 1970 .

Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, Department of Fine Arts.

M.A., 1975, Ph.D., 1979

Administrative Positions:

2000 -2003 Associate Dean of International Programs, University of Iowa

Teaching at The University of Iowa:

2004- Elizabeth M. Stanley Faculty Fellow of African Art History

1992- The University of Iowa, School of Art and Art History, Professor

1978-1992 The University of Iowa, School of Art and Art History, Instructor (1978),

Assistant Professor (1979), Associate Professor (1984, with tenure).

Other Positions Held:

1985-95 Curator, Art of Africa, the Pacific and Pre-Columbian America, The

University of Iowa Museum of Art

1992-94 Mellon Adjunct Curator of African Art, The Dallas Museum of Art.


Research in Africa 2004-09

2015 (in progress) Single-author monograph on the art of the Mossi people of Burkina

Faso. Milan: 5 Continents

Spring, 2010 Research trip to Burkina Faso

Spring, 2007 Research trip to Burkina Faso to attend the Festival Panafricain du


Spring, 2006 Research trip to Burkina Faso to study the development of cultural tourism

industry and its impact on art (Development assignment).

Spring, 2007 Research trip to Burkina Faso to study the development of cultural tourism

industry and its impact on art.

February 2004 Research trip to Ghana to attend and film to funeral of the chief of


Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

December 2004 Research trip to Burkina Faso to film and study the performance arts of the

Fulbe people in the village of Dori.



2007 The Land of Flying Masks: Art of Burkina Faso from the Collection of

Thomas G.B. Wheelock. Munich: Prestel Verlag

1987 Art of the Upper Volta Rivers. Meudon: Alain and Francoise Chaffin.

1997 Kilengi: Afrikanische Kunst aus der Sammlung Bareiss/ Kilengi: African

Art from the Bareiss Collection. Hannover: The Kestner Gesellschaft.

440 pp., 220 color plates (English edition by University of Washington


1992 Art and Life in Africa: Selections from the Stanley Collection. Iowa City:

The University of Iowa Museum of Art. Second edition, expanded,

revised and edited.

1990 African Masks and the Spirit Aesthetic. Utica, NY: The Munson

Williams Proctor Institute.

1989 Forms and Functions of African Art. Taipei: National Museum of

History. Co-authored with Allen F. Roberts. (Of all of the catalogues

listed here, this is the only one that was a collaborative effort. Of the

seven chapters, five were my work, and two were by Allen Roberts.)

1988 Selections from the Julian and Irma Brody Collection (guest curator).

The Des Moines Art Center.

1985 Art and Life in Africa: Selections from the Stanley Collection. Iowa City:

The University of Iowa Museum of Art.

1981 African Art from Iowa Private Collections. Iowa City: The University of

Iowa Museum of Art.

l979 African Sculpture: The Stanley Collection. Iowa City: The University of

Iowa Museum of Art.

Book Chapters

1995 “Art of Ancient Africa" (Ch. 13) and "Art of Africa in the Modern Era"

(Ch. 25) for Art History, ed. Professor Marilyn Stokstad, New York: Harry

N. Abrams, 1st and 2nd editions.


Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

DVDs DVDs filmed (mostly), edited, narrated and marketed by me. These are

being sold in large numbers nationally and internationally. Every

important university and museum in America has purchased copies. I

film these in Africa and edit them in my office at Iowa.

There have been two important developments recently concerning

these videos: a review by Peri Klemm, at UC Northridge, is in press at

African Arts and is due to be published this spring. I have submitted six

videos to FESPACO, the Festival pan-africain du cinema in

Ouagadougou. Because I am not African I cannot compete for official

prizes, but I felt it would be good to exhibit the films in public, in

Burkina Faso, where most of them were made.

2008 Iron Village: The Bamogo Smith Clan in the Village of Dablo

The men and women of the Bamogo smith clan make and fire pottery, grind

millet on grindstones, spin thread, dance the wiskoamba and the tokiriba,

smelt iron, forge tools, and watch the Baga diviner perform.

2008 Birds of the Wilderness: The Beauty Competition of the Wodaabe

People of Niger

The Wodaabe people of southern Niger, West Africa, hold a beauty

competition each fall in which young men paint their faces red and wear

costumes of white beads and cloth, with white ostrich feathers in their hats,

They are judged based on charm and beauty by the young women of the

competing clan. This video includes Wodaabe camp life, the feast before

the competition, a young men's initiation, lots of young women, the Ruume

dance of welcome, a young man applying his makeup, and lengthy, detailed

footage of the Geerewal.

2008 Fulani: Art and Life of a Nomadic People

The Fulani are a diverse people who live across west Africa from Dakar to

Lake Chad. They herd cattle, sheep, goats and camels, and live from the

milk from their cows. They create very beautiful art, including hairstyles,

dress, mats, architecture, song, music and dance. This video features three

Fulani peoples: the Gowabe, Jelgobe, and Wodaabe. The video includes

scenes of daily life, interiors and exteriors of their homes, cattle, milking,

making butter, weaving mats, and the spectacular dances of the Wodaabe

Fulani in Niger, the Geerewal and the Ruume. Young men paint their faces

red with clay and butter, and put on beautiful costumes of beads, white

cloth, and ostrich feathers. They dance in long lines to show off their sex

appeal. The competitions are judged by beautiful young women from the

opposite clan, and the winners' names are remembered for years to come.

2008 Coming of Age in Africa: Initiation in the Bwa Village of Dossi

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

The young men and women of the N'Kambi clan in the village of Dossi

prepare for the celebration that will mark their passage from the world of

children to the world of adults. The senior elders of the clan sacrifice

chickens on the shrine of Lanle to ask for the spirit's blessings. Young men

fashion new hemp costumes for the masks, and dye them red. They paint

the masks with red, white, and black pigments they make themselves, and

along with the young women they perform in the village plaza to celebrate

their coming of age.

2006 African Art as Theater: The Bwa Masks of the Gnoumou Family of


The masks of the Gnoumou family in the Bwa village of Boni act out the

historical encounters between their ancestors and the spirits of the

wilderness 45 minutes.

2006 Speaking With God: A Mossi Baga Diviner in Burkina Faso

An elderly diviner, whose ancestor was painted in 1907 by the German

explorer, Leo Frobenius, wears a spectacular costume of beads, shells,

leather and iron, as he speaks with God. 45 minutes

2006 African Sculpture: Carving a Crocodile Mask, Shaping a Mask of


African carvers at work creating a mask of wood for the Gnouomou family

in the town of Boni, and men of the Bayer family in Boni fashioning a mask

of leaves, which is worn for one day and then destroyed. 1 hour.

2006 Masks of Leaves and Wood: The Bwa People of Burkina Faso

The Bwa people make masks of leaves that represent the spirit of the

springtime and of the wilderness, and masks of wood that represent nature

spirits. You see the masks perform, hear the musical accompaniment, and

watch the people of the village interact with the masks. 1 hour.

2005 From Iron Ore to Iron Hoe: Smelting Iron in Africa 100 minutes

A very detailed video of every step in the process of smelting iron in a

traditional clay furnace in Africa, from mining the ore, burning the

charcoal, building the furnace, smelting the ore, forging the iron tools. The

only such video available anywhere. Iron has not been smelted from ore in

Africa for almost sixty years, and it is fascinating to see the simple but

efficient techniques African smiths once used.

2005 African Art in Motion: The Masks of the Nuna People of Burkina Faso

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

2005 African Art in Motion: The Masks of the Nuna People of Burkina Faso

90 minutes

Three videos of masks in performance in 2001-05 in Burkina Faso, West

Africa. Two videos in the villages of Savara and Tisse, and one of the

annual mask festival at Pouni. Masks include butterfly, crocodile, hyena,

bush pig, antelope, policeman, and more. Each mask's performance

recreates the encounters between the ancestors of the village and the

supernatural spirits that protect the community.

2005 Art as a Verb in Africa: The Masks of the Bwa Village of Boni 90


The spectacular mask performances of the Bwa people in the village of

Boni, in central Burkina Faso include plank masks, hawks, lepers, dwarfs,

serpents, and other spiritual beings. The masks' performances recreate the

characters of the spiritual beings they represent. Filmed at the annual mask

festival in 2005. Organized by Yacouba Bonde, Artistic Director of the Bwa

Masks of Boni.

2005 A Year in the Life of an African Family: The Bamogo Family of

Burkina Faso 120 minutes

The Bamogo family of northern Burkina Faso raise millet, sorghum and

corn on a large farm. This video follows the family as they harvest their

crops, thresh grain, cook a full meal, brew millet beer, attend a ceremony of

the local chief, grind millet on a stone grindstone, watch a diviner perform

wearing a mask, attend a large public festival, and plant the new crop in the


2005 The Death of an African King: The Funeral of the Omanhene of

Techiman 60 minutes

Osabarima Dotobibi Takyia Ameyaw II, the Chief of the Ghanaian city of

Techiman, turned his face to the wall in September, 2003 after a long and

distinguished career as chief and as a colonel in the armed forces of Ghana.

His funeral was celebrated in February, 2004 in Techiman, and because he

had died while still chief, it was attended by most of the important chiefs of

Ghana as well as by the Chief of State and the former president. This video

covers all six days of the funeral, and includes spectacular footage of the

royal arts of Ghana, including funeral cloth, gold ornaments, umbrellas of

state, drums, dancing, and both military and Christian rites.

2003 African Pottery Techniques 60 minutes

2003 African Masks: Burkina Faso 60 minutes

2003 African Weaving 25 minutes

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

2003 A Day in the Life of a Village in Africa 60 minutes

2004 Drums of Africa: The Talking Drums of Techiman 40 minutes

2005 Brewing Millet Beer in Africa 40 minutes

CD-ROM Developed from 1994-97 with $250,000 grant from the Department of

Education and $250,000 grant from the National Endowment for the

Humanities (the largest NEH grant ever awarded at the University of Iowa)

1994-1997 "Art and Life in Africa: Recontextualizing African Art in the Cycle of

Life." CD-ROM program. 600 objects, 750 field photographs, 11 chapters,

1400 pages of text, 28 maps, 107 ethnographies, 36 essays by international

scholars. Principal investigator, editor, project director. Completed, spring,

1998. Funded by Fund for Improvement for Post-Secondary Education.

Books I Have Edited

2000 Clay and Fire: African Pottery. Iowa Studies in African Art, volume 4,

Iowa City: The Project for Advanced Study of Art and Life in Africa.

1990 Art and Initiation in Zaire. Iowa Studies in African Art , volume 3. Iowa

City: The Project for Advanced Study of Art and Life in Africa.

1987 The Artist and the Workshop in Traditional Africa. Iowa Studies in

African Art , volume 2. Iowa City: The Project for Advanced Study of

Art and Life in Africa.

1985 Iowa Studies in African Art , volume 1. Iowa City: The Project for

Advanced Study of Art and Life in Africa.


Refereed :

1999 “Kilengi: African Art from the Bareiss Collection,” (exhibition preview).

African Arts 32(2):52-69.

1987 "The Spread of Mask Styles in the Black Volta Basin," African Arts


1983 "African Art in the Stanley Collection," African Arts 16(3):32-46,79.

1982 "Mossi Weaving," African Arts 15(3):48-59,91-92.

1982 "Mossi Chiefs' Figures," African Arts 15(4):5259,90-91.

1981 "Mossi Dolls," African Arts 14(4):47-51,88.

1980 "Mossi Zazaido," African Arts 13(3):42-45,92.


Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

2008 African Art from the Menil Collection, editor Kristina Van Dyke. 2008:

Yale University Press. Essay 26-7 “Antelope Headdresses”, essay 28,

“Female Figure”, essay 29-31 “Flutes”, essay32, 33 “Entertainment

Masks”, essay 34 “Ram Mask”,

2004 “The Speed and Color of Aggression: A Mossi Mask,” in Lamp, Frederic

editor See the Music, Hear the Dance. Baltimore Museum of Art.

2003 “Leaf Masks Among the Bobo and the Bwa,” in Herreman, Frank, ed.

Material Differences: Art and Identitity in Africa. New York: Museum

for African Art.

2002 “Graphic Patterns and Spirit Associations in Burkina Faso,” BaesslerArchiv: Neue Folge. Berlin: Museum für Volkerkunde

2000 “Traditional Crafts in Contempory Nigeria: Case Studies of Pottery

Making in Ooko and Dada Compound (Ilorin), Southwestern Nigeria,”

with Boye Agunbiade, Michael McNulty, and Charles Hindes. In Clay

and Fire: Pottery in Africa, edited by Christopher Roy

1992 "Continuity and Change in the Art of Mande Blacksmiths in the Valley

of the Black Volta," Papers from the First Conference on Artists,

Artisans and Traditional Technologists in Development. Iowa City:

Center for International and Comparative Studies.

1985 101 Masterworks: The University of Iowa Museum of Art. Iowa City.

Nine catalogue entries.

1989 The Dogon of Mali and Upper Volta. Munich: Galerie fur Afrikanische


1987 "The Western Sudan", essay on the geography, history, peoples,

languages, and styles of the Western Sudan and catalogue entries on

Burkina Faso for Afrikanische Kunst (catalogue of the Barbier-Muller

Collection, exhibition in Dusseldorf, Geneva, published in separate

French, German, English editions.) Munich: Prestel Verlag

1987 Catalogue entries on African objects for the Smithsonian Institution

Traveling Exhibition Service exhibition and publication Generations.

1983-84 "Form and Meaning of Mossi Masks," Arts d'Afrique Noire (Paris) 48

(winter 1983):9-23; 49 (spring 1984)22.

1984 "Mossi Mask Styles," Iowa Studies in African Art 1: 45-66.

1981 "Mossi Masks in the Barbier-Muller Collection," Connaissance des Arts

Tribaux 12, Geneva.

1981 “Male Figure: Doorpost,” For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the

Tishman Collection. Susan Vogel, editor. New York: The Metropolitan

Museum of Art.



Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

2000 “Westafrika, “ in Afrika: Kunst und Kultur. Berlin: Museum fur

Volkerkunde, English edition 2003 “West Africa” in Africa: Art and

Culture. Editor Hans-Joachim Koloss

1998 "Tribal Arts," An Uncommon Vision: The Des Moines Art Center. Des

Moines Art Center. (The first catalogue of the collection at the Des

Moines Art Center, there are essays on each of the parts of the collection.

I wrote the essay on the African collection, which I have helped them

acquire over the past twenty years from Julian Brody and other donors.)

1995 Four catalogue entries for Africa: Art of a Continent, London: Royal

Academy of Art

1991 Spoons from Burkina Faso re-publication in English of essay in Spoons

in African Art. Zurich: Museum Rietberg

1990 Loffel in der Kunst Afrikas. Zurich: Museum Rietberg (entries for two

spoons from Burkina Faso),

1989 "A Nuna Flute: Attribution and Meaning," in Sounding Forms: African

Musical Instruments, edited by Marie Therese Brincard (catalogue of an

exhibition at The National Museum of African Art/ Smithsonian,

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Musee

des Arts Africains et Oceaniens, Paris). New York: The American

Federation of Arts, also published in French by the Musee des Arts

Africaines et Oceaniens, Paris.

Dictionary Entries:

2007 Entry on dress in Burkina Faso for ten-volume encyclopedia of dress

around the world, published in Oxford, GB. Editors Joann Eicher U.

Minnesota and Doran Ross UCLA

1996 Entry for "Art of West Africa," for the Encyclopedia of Sub-Saharan


1988-93 Entries on the Mossi, Bobo, Bwa, Gurunsi, Lobi, geography of Burkina

Faso, contemporary art in Burkina Faso for The Dictionary of Art,

London: Macmillan.


2002 “West African Pottery Forming and Firing,” Mundus Africanus:

Festchrift for Karl Ferdinand Schaedler. Rahden:Verlag Marie Leidorf.

1989 "Mossi Pottery Forming and Firing," in Man Does Not Go Naked:

Textilien und Handwerk aus Afrikanischen und anderen Landern, Beate

Engelbrecht and Bernhard Gardi, editors. Baesler Beitrage zur

Ethnologie- Ethnologisches Seminar der Universitat und Museum fur

Volkerkunde. Basel.

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy


1982 "Kunst und Religion der Lobi," by Piet Meyer. Zurich: 1982. African

Arts 16(2):23,81-84.

1982 "Africa: The Art and Culture of the Upper Volta," by Laurent van Ham

and Robert van Dijk. Rotterdam: 1980. African Arts 15(4):17-21.

1982 "Les Bobo: Nature et fonction des masques," by Guy Le Moal. Paris:

1981. African Arts 15 (2):10-17.

1980 "Traditional Sculpture from Upper Volta," African Arts 13(2):74.

Museum Exhibitions:

1997 Kilengi: Afrikanische Kunst aus der Sammlung Bareiss. Hannover, The

Kestner Gesellschaft; Vienna, Museum fur Angewandte Kunst; Munich,

Kunstbau Lehenbachhaus; Kilengi: African Art from the Bareiss

Collection Iowa City, University of Iowa Museum of Art; Purchase,

Newberger Museum

1994 Journeys: Life Stories of African Art. Iowa City. The University of Iowa

Museum of Art.

1993 Nomads of the Northern Plains: Ledger Drawings from the Solomons

Collection. Iowa City: The University of Iowa Museum of Art.

1992 Art and Life in Africa: Selections from the Collections of C.M. Stanley

and Elizabeth M. Stanley. Iowa City, The University of Iowa Museum of


1992 Woven in Beauty: Navajo Textiles from Iowa Collections. Iowa City:

The University of Iowa Museum of Art.

1991 Women’s Art in Africa: African Wood fired Pottery from Iowa

Collections. Iowa City: The University of Iowa Museum of Art.

1990 Art of Melanesia from the University of Iowa Collections. Iowa City:

The University of Iowa Museum of Art.

1990 African Masks and the Spirit Aesthetic. (Guest curator) Utica, NY: The

Munson Williams Proctor Institute.

1989 Forms and Functions of African Art. Taipei and Taichung, Republic of

China. Chief curator and author, With Allen F. Roberts.

1988 Selections from the Julian and Irma Brody Collection (guest curator).

The Des Moines Art Center.

1987 Art from the Underworld: Selections of Pre-Columbian Art from the

Collection of Eugene and Ina Schnell. Iowa City: The University of

Iowa Museum of Art.

1985 Art and Life in Africa: Selections from the Stanley Collection. The

University of Iowa Museum of Art.

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

1981 African Art from Iowa Private Collections. The University of Iowa

Museum of Art.

1979 African Sculpture: The Stanley Collection. The University of Iowa

Museum of Art.


PhD Students Supervised:

Name Years Role Degree

David Riep 2010 Committee chair PhD

Yomi Ola 2009 Committee chair PhD

Sarah Clunis 2006 Committee chair PhD

Gitti Salami 2005 Committee chair PhD

Susan Cooksey 2004 Committee chair PhD

Jennifer Vigil 2004 Committee chair PhD

Karen Milbourne 2003 Committee chair PhD

Barbara Thompson 1999 Committee chair PhD

Boureima Diamitani 1999 Committee chair PhD

Brenda Molife 1998 Committee PhD

Dana Rush 1997 Committee PhD

Manuel Jordan 1994 Committee chair PhD

Emily Vergara 1994 Committee chair PhD

Julia Risser 1994 Committee chair PhD

New course “The Art of African Kings” developed for undergraduates/graduates. Offered

as a course in the fall of 2006

New course developed for First Year Seminar on “The Art of Exploration.” Offered as a

course in the fall of 2005, 2006.


1987-2007 Director, Project for the Advanced Study of

Art and Life in Africa (PASALA). External

support totaling over $1,500,000 since 1978.

$70,000 in 2006. $75,000 every year since


1999-00 Art and Humanities Initiative grant $3,000 to duplicate research photos.

1997-99 National Endowment for the Humanities, grant totaling

$220,000 (plus $400,000 in institutional matching) to adapt

the CD-ROM for high school use and train high school

teachers to use it. Project Director.

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

1995-98 Fund For the Improvement of Post Secondary Education,

grant totaling $240,000 (plus $250,000 in institutional

support) over three years to develop a CD-ROM based

program titled "Art and Life in Africa" for use in collegelevel classes on African art. Completed October, 1998.

Project Director.

1991 National Endowment for the Humanities, Travel to Collections Grant, to

visit museums in Berlin, Munich, Brussels

1990 University House Summer Fellowship, with Allen Roberts, to work on

text for new edition of Stanley Collection catalogue

1989 Smithsonian Institution Fellowship to carry out research at the National

Museum of African Art (summer).

1986 Grant from The University of Iowa Video Production Unit to produce

two videotapes of masked performances in Burkina Faso (awarded a

prize for creative excellence at a major national video conference).

1982-85 University of Iowa Faculty Scholarship for research in Africa, spring

1983, 1984, 1985 (a semester each year for three years).

1985 Senior Research Grant, Fulbright-Hays Program. For research in Burkina

Faso on "The Art of the Mossi and their Neighbors".

1982-85 Grant from the United States Information Agency for the establishment

of a faculty exchange with the University of Ouagadougou. With

Professor Jacques Bourgeacq, Department of French and Italian. For

support of research in Burkina Faso (Upper Volta), spring 1983, 1984,


1985 Director of a grant from the Iowa Humanities Board and the National

Endowment for the Humanities for a lecture series "Art and Life in

Africa" and a conference "The Artist and the Workshop in Traditional


1981 University of Iowa "Old Gold" summer fellowship, for research in


1976-78 International Doctoral Research Fellowship, Social Science Research

Council and the American Council of Learned Societies.

1976-77 Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, Fulbright-Hays


1975-76 NDEA Title VI, African Studies Program, Indiana University, for the

study of the More language.


2004 Elizabeth M. Stanley Faculty Fellow of African Art History

2000 College of Liberal Arts, Collegiate Teaching Award.

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

1995 Designated First Distinguished Art History Alumnus, Indiana University,

Henry Hope School of Fine Arts

1987 National Award for Creative Excellence, American Industrial Film

Festival, for “Yaaba Soore – The Path of the Ancestors”

Invited Lectures and Conference Presentations:


2001 Lecture to the National Cultural Colloquium (in French), organized by

the Ministry of Culture, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, televised

nationally, May, 2001.

1997 “African Art in Social Context,” Vienna, Austria, Museum für

Angewandte Kunst.

1991 “Art of Burkina Faso,” Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan,

Ibadan, Nigeria

1990 “Art and Life in Africa,” Taipei, Republic of China, National History


1983 “Mossi Art and History,” University of Ouagadougou, history seminar.

1983 “Form and Meaning of Mossi Masks,” Zurich, Switzerland, Rietberg



2004 Public lecture at Dartmouth College, Heard Museum (January, 2004)

2004 Lecture in conference on performance, University of Florida, Gainesville

2002 (Spring) “Art of Burkina Faso” at Carleton College, Northfield, MN

2002 (Fall) “New Digital technology for the Documentation of African Art”, 2002

Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, Washington.

2002 (Winter) Lecture on my CD at College Art Association meeting in Philadelphia,

February 2002.

2000 “Creating an Interactive CD-ROM on African Art for K-12 Instruction,”

The Virginia Museum of Art, Richmond.

1998 “Creating an Interactive CD-ROM on African Art,” New Orleans,

Triennial Symposium on African Art.

1998 “Invented Spirits and Art in Burkina Faso,” Washington University, St.

Louis, Art History Department.

1996 “The Laws of God: Graphic Patterns, Religious Laws and Religious

Communities in the Valley of The Black Volta River” University of

California-Santa Barbara, University of California-Los Angeles

1995 “Resistance and Receptivity to Change: in the Art of The Mossi and the

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

Bwa.” Indiana University, Hope School of Fine Arts (in acceptance of

distinguished alumnus award).

1994 “The Laws of God: Graphic Patterns, Religious Laws and Religious

Communities in the Valley of The Black Volta River’” Grinnell College,

Davenport Art Museum, Carlton College

1994 “West African Pottery in Social Context,” Northwestern College, Orange

City, Iowa and Dordt College, Sioux Center Iowa

1992-93 Three Lectures on “Art and Life in Africa” to Friends of African and

African-American Art, Dallas Museum of Art.

1991 “Graphic Patterns and Spirit Cults in the Valley of the Black Volta,”

Oberlin College, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Dallas Texas, Dallas

Museum of Art.

1990 “Graphic Patterns and Spirit Cults in the Valley of the Black Volta,”

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Worcester Art Museum,

Worcester, Mass, Lakeview Museum, Peoria Illinois.

1990 “Graphic Patterns and Spirit Cults in the Valley of the Black Volta,”

Indiana University, School of Fine Arts

1989 “Signs and Symbols in Voltaic Art,” National Museum of African Art/

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

1989 “Signs and Symbols in Voltaic Art,” The Center for African Art, N.Y.

1988 “African Abstraction and 20th Century Art” Southeast Texas Museum of

Art, Beaumont, Texas

1987 “Do in Wood and Leaves Among the Bobo and the Bwa” Annual

Meeting of the African Studies Association, Denver

1987 “Why is African Art so Abstract?” University of Miami, Miami, Florida

1987 “The Spread of Mask Styles in the Black Volta Basin,” Annual Meeting

of the College Art Association, Boston, Raleigh, North Carolina Museum

of Art

1986 “Resistance and Receptivity to Style Among the Mossi and the Bwa,”

U.C.L.A. Museum of Cultural History, San Francisco Friends of Ethnic

Art, Lowie Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley

1985 “Style Diffusion in Central Burkina Faso,” University of Illinois,


1984 “Art and Death in a Mossi Village,” University of California/ Santa Cruz.

1984 “Mask Styles of Burkina Faso,” Friends of Ethnic Art, San Francisco.

1983 “Animal Masks and Masks’ Performances at Voltaic Funerals,” Boston,

African Studies Association Annual Meeting.

1982 “Art and Death in a Mossi Village,” St. Lawrence University, Canton,

New York, Department of Fine Arts.

1982 “Geography, Environment, and Mossi Mask Styles,” Washington, D.C.,

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

African Studies Association Annual Meeting. Panel Chair.

1982 “Mask Styles of Upper Volta,” University of California, Los Angeles.

School of Art, Art History, and Design.

1982 “Mossi Mask (karan-wemba) in the Stanley Collection at the University

of Iowa,” New York, College Art Association Annual Meeting, Panel on

“Individual Works of African Art” chaired by Suzanne Blier.

1982 “Mossi Chiefs’ Figures,” Columbia University, Seminar on Primitive and

Pre-Columbian Art.

1981 Mossi Pottery,” Bloomington, Indiana, African Studies Association

Annual Meeting. Panel Chair.

1980 “Form and Meaning of Mossi Masks,” Atlanta University, Atlanta,

Georgia, Fifth Triennial Symposium on African Art.

1980 “Mossi Masks’ Performance,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, African

Studies Association Annual Meeting. Panel Chair.

1979 “Mossi Mask Styles,” University of Iowa, Iowa City, School of Art and

Art History, Symposium on African Art.

1979 “Mossi Mask Styles,” Washington, D.C. National Museum of African

Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Local lectures (a very partial list):

1999 Distinguished Art History lecture, spring, 1999, Luther College,

Decorah, IA.

1993 “Resistance and Receptivity to Change in Burkina Faso: The Case of the

Mossi and the Bwa,” Clarke College, Dubuque (in conjunction with an

opening of objects from the Stanley Collection).

1991 “Continuity and Change in the Art of Mande Blacksmiths in the Valley

of the Black Volta River,” Iowa City: University of Iowa, Conference

“Redefining the Artisan”

1982 “Art and Death in a Mossi Village,” Iowa City, MidAmerica College Art

Association Annual Meeting, Panel on “Art and Religious Ritual”.


Service to


2008-9 Department Graduate Admissions Committee

2005 Committee member, Joni Kinsey promotion to Professor

1999-2000 Department Admissions, Recruitment and TA assignment Committee,


1999 Ebon Fischer review committee

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

1999 Isabelle Barbuzza review committee

1998- 2000 Web-master, art history program.

1998-99 William Dewey promotion and tenure committee

1998 Isabelle Barbuzza review comittee

1997-98 School of Art and Art History salary committee

1997 John Scott review committee for promotion to full professor

1996-98 Art History meeting secretary

1994 Stephen Foster review committee

1998 School of Art and Art History, Faculty Council

1992-4 . Search Committee, Director of the School of Art and Art History

1992-3 School of Art and Art History, Faculty Council

1981 Co-chairman of the Second Symposium on African Art, School of Art

and Art History, University of Iowa.

1982 Professor in Charge of Art History

This is an abbreviated list of my departmental committee assignments. I have eliminated

most between 1978 and 1982.

Service to College:

2007 Office of VP for Research, Committee on Natural History Museum

2000 College of Liberal Arts Committee on Museum Studies Program, Chair

1998-99 College of Liberal Arts Promotion and Tenure Committee

1999 College of Liberal Arts Faculty Scholar selection committee

1998 Lecture (with Lee McIntyre) to Saturday Morning Scholars

1989-92 Foreign Civilization and Culture Coordinating Committee, College of

Liberal Arts, (1992 chair)

Service to University:

2000-2001 African Studies Program, Chair

1998-2000 Faculty Senate

1996-98 Faculty Assembly

1979-2003 African Studies Program committee

1995- present Adjunct Curator of Tribal Art, The University of Iowa Museum of Art.

1994-5 Search Committee, Associate Provost for International Programs

1991-92 Chair of Foreign Civilization and Culture Coordinating Committee.

1990-92 Faculty Senate

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

1990 Search committee, Dean of the Graduate College

1987-90 University of Iowa Graduate Council

1987-90 Committee on The Artist, Artisan and Technologist in Development,

Center for International and Comparative Studies

1988 Co-chair of Fourth Symposium on African Art at The University of

Iowa, "Art and Initiation in Zaire"

1987-88 Search Committee for Director of International Programs

1983-88 Member, Executive Committee on International and Comparative


1984-86 University of Iowa Committee on Foreign Languages.

1985 Co-chair of Third Symposium on African Art at The University of Iowa,

"The Artist and the Workshop in Traditional Africa"

1984-85 Committee for a Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa.

1981-83 Afro-American Studies Program, University of Iowa, Steering


1979-88 Director of the African Studies Program,

1979-88 (Committee, 1979-85, Program 1985-88). Organized and lectured for

47:7 "Contemporary Africa," 3 s.h. (Global Studies Program), an interdisciplinary introduction to Africa offered in 1979, 1981, 1982.

Organized 47:110 "African News Colloquium," offered in 1983, 1984.

Service to


1998 Panel Chair "Teaching About Africa through the use of Digital

Technology," New Orleans, Triennial Symposium on African Art.

1994-95 Advisory Committee, "Africa: Art of a Continent," London, Royal

Academy of Arts with Sir David Attenborough, Dr. John Mack, British

Museum, Dr. Hans-Joachim Koloss, Museum fur Volkerkunde, Berlin,

Mme. Francine N'Diaye, Musee de l'Homme, Paris

1995-1998 Standing Committee on Ethics, Arts Council of the African Studies


1990-92 Chair of planning committee, Triennial Symposium on African Art,

hosted by The University of Iowa, April 23-25, 1992.

1989 Triennial Conference on African Art, Smithsonian Institution, (June 14-

17, 1989) planning committee, chair film and video panels, present paper

on "What's in a Mask?" and participate in panel on ethics in research and


1989-1999 Consulting Editor, African Arts, U.C.L.A.

1988-90 Reviewer of post-doctoral fellowship applications, Getty Foundation

Curriculum Vitae - Christopher Damon Roy

1986-90 Board of Directors, Arts Council of the African Studies Association

1986 Chaired two panels on recent films of African art at the Triennial

Symposium on African Art at UCLA. Showed my films of mask

performances of Burkina Faso.

1986 Panel selection committee for Triennial Symposium on African Art at


1982-4 Fellowship Selection Committee, International Doctoral Research

Fellowship Program, Social Science Research Council and the American

Council of Learned

1981 Chairman of a panel on "Approaches to the Classification of African

Sculptural Styles," African Studies Association Annual Meeting, Howard

University, Washington, D.C.

1981 Chairman of a panel on "Traditional African Pottery forming and Firing

Techniques," African Studies Association Annual Meeting,

Bloomington, Indiana.

1980 Chairman of a panel on "Recent Research on Traditional Masking, "

African Studies Association Annual Meeting, University of

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Community Outreach:

1998 Trained 100 secondary school teachers from Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska

to use the “Art and Life in Africa” CD-ROM during four two-day

workshops in the summer of 1998. Funded by the National Endowment

for the Humanities. With L. Lee McIntyre.

1980-2000 Dozens of lectures at community centers, colleges, museums, art centers,

primary and secondary schools in Iowa City and the state of Iowa since

1978. Some of these were sponsored by the Iowa Humanities Board,

others by Hancher Arts Outreach, others were just invited lectures. In

1985-87 I lectured all over the state in a program sponsored by the

National Endowment for the Humanities and the Iowa Humanities Board

(I think there were a total of twenty-seven venues). Including Bettendorf,

Moline, Rock Island twice, Clinton, Marshalltown twice, Burlington

twice, Cresco, Sioux City, Muscatine twice, Dordt College, Northwestern

College (Orange City) twice, Cornell College, Mount Mercy College,

Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa, Des Moines Art

Center, Mason City, Buena Vista College, Iowa City schools and R

"Masterpiece or Mistake? A Hawaii Museum’s $7.5 Million Question"

“A statue of a Hawaiian war god bought at auction for about $7.5 million is now the centerpiece of a major exhibition in Honolulu. But some experts say it might not be as old, or as valuable, as the auction house claimed. It was a generous gift — and one completely in tune with our cultural times.

In 2018, the tech billionaire Marc Benioff donated a wooden statue of a Hawaiian war god he had bought at auction for about $7.5 million to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. The snarling, musclebound deity, known as “The Island Eater,” is now the centerpiece of a major exhibition there, exploring the role of traditional sculpture in Hawaiian culture and society.

This private act of restitution came amid a growing clamor for Western collections to return ethnographic artifacts to their places of origin.


Mr. Benioff, the chairman and chief executive of the software company Salesforce, said in a statement announcing the gift last July that he felt the sculpture “belonged in Hawaii, for the education and benefit of its people.”

At the sale in Paris, Christie’s said the wooden war god was about 200 years old. But now doubts have emerged about the sculpture’s age, inside and outside the Bishop Museum. Some international experts say the piece could be from the 20th century and worth less than $5,000.

“It’s the sort of thing you see in a tiki bar,” said Daniel Blau, an expert in the art of the Pacific islands who is based in Munich.

Such a wide discrepancy in valuation could be a concern for the Internal Revenue Service, should Mr. Benioff wish to claim the donation on his tax return, as well for museumgoers having to pay as much as $24.95 to see the sculpture in Honolulu.

Mr. Benioff, who would not comment for this article, currently has a net worth of about $6.8 billion, according to Forbes. In September, he bought Time magazine for $190 million. He strongly identifies with the spiritual values of Hawaii, where he owns a six-bedroom beachfront house. His desire to infuse the corporate culture of Salesforce with the “Aloha spirit” — including turning his employees’ Fridays into Hawaiian shirt days — has, however, led to accusations of cultural appropriation.

Now questions are being asked about Mr. Benioff’s act of cultural repatriation. The Christie’s sale in Paris was the last of several from the fabled private collection of Pierre Vérité and his son Claude, both highly regarded dealers in tribal art. The elder Mr. Vérité had the distinction of selling artifacts to Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and André Breton, among others.

Lot 153 in Christie’s sale was cataloged as “Hawaiian figure, kona style, circa 1780-1820, representing the god of war, ku ka ’ili moku.” Hitherto unknown, with no documented history of ownership, the 21-inch sculpture, carved from wood of the Hawaiian metrosideros tree, was thought to have been acquired by Pierre Vérité from the dealer and collector Marie-Ange Ciolkowska during the 1940s, according to Christie’s. It was estimated to sell for 2 million to 3 million euros, or $2.3 million to $3.4 million.

“We couldn’t imagine that such a work could still exist in a private collection,” Susan Kloman, head of African and Oceanic Art at Christie’s, said in the pre-auction promotional content for the Verité sale. “It’s an incredible discovery,” she added. “This figure could stand on the world stage.”

Ms. Kloman declined to comment on the doubts subsequently raised about the sculpture, but a Christie’s representative said last week in an email that it was “an important rediscovery that is sure to inspire continued scholarship and interest.”

Anthony Meyer, a dealer based in Paris and a specialist in Oceanic artworks, said “I don’t think it’s a pre-contact or post-contact sculpture carved by someone with the belief systems of that period or place,” referring to Captain James Cook’s arrival in Hawaii in 1778. “I think it’s made later, but I don’t know when,” added Mr. Meyer.

He added that if the sculpture is of a much later date, it could have a financial value of less than $5,000.

But Julian Harding, a respected private dealer and expert in Pacific Island artifacts, said in by telephone last week that he remained convinced that the wooden war god was “a masterpiece of Oceanic art.”

“If I had $7 million to spend,” he added, “I would have spent it on that figure.”

Mr. Harding said he had told Christie’s before the sale that the sculpture was the “mate” of a similar-looking figure made from the same type of wood in the British Museum; records show that sculpture was acquired by the London Missionary Society in Hawaii in 1822.

George Bennet, a voracious collector, was on that voyage, and Mr. Harding believes that the figure sold at Christie’s was very likely from his personal collection. “I’m 90 percent sure it’s a Bennet piece,” Mr. Harding said. This provenance, “George Bennet collection, London,” which has no documentary corroboration, was included in marketing materials from Christie’s.

Last fall, a fact-finding delegation of curators from the Bishop Museum visited experts in London and Paris, including Mr. Meyer, to investigate the history of the sculpture. The museum’s current “Transformative Images” exhibition, in which the figure is on show, presents it cautiously, describing it as “long held in a private French collection,” but not specifying when it was carved.

Melanie Ide, the museum’s president and chief executive, said the museum was aware of “a question about its history and provenance,” adding that curators were doing “additional research.” The wood has been scientifically analyzed, she said, adding that further testing “may be informative.”

Mr. Blau and other experts point out that radiocarbon testing can narrow down the age of the wood, but not when it was carved.

Adrienne Kaeppler, the curator of Oceanic Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and one of the world’s foremost experts on Hawaiian art, said in an email that Christie’s had contacted her about the figure before the sale. “I told them it looked like a similar replica of the sculpture in the British Museum, only smaller,” Dr. Kaeppler said. “I was concerned that its history only went back to the 1930s.”

A spokeswoman for Christie’s said Dr. Kaeppler had only seen photographs of the sculpture and had not viewed it person.


The issue could be given closure if Mr. Benioff were to claim a charitable tax deduction for his $7.5 million donation to the Bishop Museum. Having been bought at auction for more than $50,000, the sculpture would have to be appraised by the I.R.S. Art Advisory Panel, which would recommend a true market value.

“The I.R.S. generally won’t accept an auction receipt as an appraisal,” said David Shapiro, a senior appraiser at Victor Wiener Associates in New York. “The I.R.S. requires an appraisal, and at this level the Art Advisory Panel will take a good look at it. Values of an ethnographic artwork can be wildly different if there are doubts about it.”

But Mr. Shapiro also pointed out that donated artworks generally qualify for significant tax deductions only if they have been owned by a collector for at least a year. This was not the case with Mr. Benioff’s Hawaiian sculpture.

Mr. Benioff said through a Salesforce spokeswoman that he would not comment for this article, and did not respond to further emails asking if he intended his gift to be tax-deductible.

And so the debate, and the uncertainty, goes on. Marques Marzan, a cultural adviser at the Bishop Museum who has been coordinating the museum’s research, said that a date for the donated sculpture “cannot be confirmed at this time.”

But, he added, the exhibition in which it is featured focuses on what this enigmatic Hawaiian sculpture “represents to the living people today.”

“Provenance and dates are helpful in better understanding the cultural and global context of objects,” Mr. Marzan said. “But if a piece cannot provoke discussion or appreciation, what really is it worth?”

"A French Museum Director Pushes Back Against a Radical Report Calling on Macron to Return Looted African Art"

“The head of the Musée du Quai Branly, Stéphane Martin, criticizes the report's authors for tainting every collection with the "impurity of colonial crime."

The president of Paris’s Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac has spoken out against a radical report advising the French President, Emmanuel Macron, on the return of African art plundered during the colonial period.


The first senior French museum official to criticize the report in public, Stéphane Martin told AFP on Tuesday (November 27) that he disagrees with the proposals for a “maximal restitution” set forth by its co-authors, the academics Bénédicte Savoy and Felwine Sarr. Martin argues that a statement from the presidential palace on Friday, November 23, leans more towards the increased circulation of African art in French collections rather than their wholesale return.

The Savoy-Sarr report proposes a progressive and permanent restitution of Sub-Saharan African art acquired “without consent” during the colonial era. Tens of thousands of works in the French national collection are potentially implicated.


The Musée du Quai Branly, which Martin has lead since 1998, was created to bring together the art and culture of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas in a new home designed by Jean Nouvel. It holds nearly 80 percent of the works of African art in French public collections, around 70,000 pieces in total.

In a gesture of the seriousness of the French commitment to restituting these objects, the Élysée palace announced that 26 objects from the quai Branly collection will be returned to the kingdom of Benin “without delay.”

Tainted With the Same Brush:

Martin says the “main problem” with Savoy and Sarr’s report is that “it sidelines museums in favor of specialists in historical reparations.”

The museum president says he disagrees with the conclusion of the report, which taints all objects acquired during the colonial era with the same brush. It stains “all that was collected and bought during the colonial period” with “the impurity of colonial crime,” he says.

Martin says the report makes vulnerable “donations to museums from people related to colonization (administrators, doctors, soldiers) and their descendants” as well as “everything that was collected by scientific expeditions.” Gifts given freely would also be susceptible to restitution claims, he adds, offering up the example of works in the collection that were gifts from Cameroonian chiefs to a doctor, Pierre Harter, who treated their families for leprosy in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Martin also balked at Savoy and Sarr’s suggestion of establishing a “mixed commission” to deal with each demand for restitution. “It would be a huge overhaul of French law for a foreign state to have equal footing with the French nation in determining what is rightfully or not a part of its own heritage.”

Loans, Not Returns:

The museum president does not think the release issued by the Élysée endorses the idea of comprehensive restitution. “The way I read it, it closes the door on the Savoy-Sarr report by insisting that museums, and above all universal museums, are an important element of the common heritage of humanity,” Martin says.

He believes that the French president intends for “circulation” to remain the principal means of cultural diffusion. To support this belief, he cites part of the release stating Macron’s hope that “all possible forms of circulation of these works be considered” including “restitution, but also exhibitions, exchanges, loans, deposits, and cooperation.”

Martin says restitution “can, in very specific cases, be considered,” as in the case of the Benin sculptures exhibited at Quai Branly that were ransacked from the Dahomey king’s palace in 1892 by the French. That said, he maintains that there have long been examples of these transfers of state-to-state ownership. “The Getty has returned objects to Italy, the British Museum to Australia, the Musée Guimet Museum to China,” he says, arguing that the “current legal apparatus” in place is sufficient to organize the deaccessioning of these works.

Restitution “cannot be the only way, otherwise we will empty European museums,” Martin says, fearing that “heritage will become the hostage of memory.” Instead, he focuses on alternatives to restitution in which museums can play a role, such as building new museums, and working with private collectors and foundations such as the Zinsou Foundation in Cotonou. Martin says the presidential line “invites museums to play a vital role,” while the report frames museums dismissively as “poachers.” Contacted by artnet News, the Quai Branly did not immediately respond to a request for elaboration on Martin’s comments to AFP.

In all this, France’s new minister for culture Franck Riester, as well as the French minister for foreign affairs, will have an important role to play. Macron has invited heads of state, museum directors, and conservation experts from Africa and Europe to meet in Paris early next year to build on the framework set out in the Savoy-Sarr report.”

"A Careful Collector’s Gift of African Objects and Modern Art is Celebrated in Detroit"

“New exhibition is dedicated to Margaret Demant—a passionate booster of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection.

Margaret Demant was longtime champion of the Detroit Institute of Arts. The interior designer and art collector joined the museum as a member and volunteer in the early 1960s, later serving on the board of trustees. Of the 49 pieces donated to the museum after her death in 2018, most are from African countries, reflecting not only Demant’s passion for the continent’s diverse cultures, but her devotion to an institution that has made expanding its African art collection a top priority over the years. Her other interest was in Modern art, and her gift to the museum—which is being recognised with the exhibition Extraordinary Eye, Extraordinary Gift (27 January-19 May)—includes works on paper by Pablo Picasso and Le Corbusier, assemblage works by Andre Breton and Joseph Cornell, and a painting by Jean Dubuffet.


“When she purchased art, she made every effort to know where the gaps [in the DIA collection] were,” says Nii Quarcoopome, the curator in charge of the museum’s department of Africa, Oceania and Indigenous Americas. Demant’s acquisitions were deliberate, Quarcoopome says, and she was always thinking of how a piece would benefit or enhance the museum. “She wasn’t just collecting to decorate the home, she was installing the pieces in ways that allowed them to connect with each other.”

Demant’s life was also extraordinary. Born in Germany in 1926, she and her sister escaped Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport after Kristallnacht. Eventually the family was reunited and they settled in Detroit where Demant would go on to build a thriving interior design business.

Quarcoopome knew Demant for years before joining the staff of the museum in 2006. He travelled to Ghana with her and a group of museum members at her initiative. By going to the source and exposing the group to art in Africa, Quarcoopome says she hoped it would convert some of them from just enthusiasts to collectors of art. Work bought on that trip resulted in promised gifts. “Her overall influence in the institution’s history is not going to be measured just by the art that she has given, but by how influential she was in helping other people to pick up pieces to fill gaps in our collection. She has just contributed so much.”

For Quarcoopome, Demant’s gift has elevated an already formidable collection of African art to an even higher level. “The pieces that Margaret had show very, very clear signs of age and extensive use,” Quarcoopome says, adding that the patina tells us that a piece was revered and essential. There might be similar sculptures and objects on the market, he notes, but not of this quality. “It gives me reason to celebrate.”

"Palais de Tokyo Opens First Exhibition in France of Works by Theaster Gates"

“For his first solo show in France, Theaster Gates has initiated a new project, pursuing the exploration of social histories of migration and inter-racial relations. He thus deals more exactly with questions of black subjugation and the resulting imperial sexual domination and racial mixing, while concentrating on an episode in American history. These themes allow Gates to explore new cinematographic, sculptural and musical futures while examining the history of land ownership and race relations in North Eastern, United States. The starting point of this exhibition, entitled “Amalgam”, is the story of Malaga Island, a small isle in the state of Maine, in the USA: In 1912, the governor of the state of Maine had all of its inhabitants expelled. This poor population, made up of an interracial, mixed community of about 45 people, considered to be “indolent” by many of the local inhabitants, was forced to spread out through the region, some of them even being condemned to psychiatric institutions.

Theaster Gates.jpg

The term “Amalgam”, which currently seems outdated in English-speaking culture, was used to describe a racial, ethnic and religious mingling. It has acquired for Theaster Gates a “loaded” significance, calling for a new series of works made up of videos, sculptures and architectural gestures, thus clearly committing his practice towards new formal and conceptual explorations.

Theaster Gates (born in 1973, lives in Chicago) works as an artist and land theorist. His practice includes sculpture, installation, performance and urban interventions that demonstrate the tremendous usevalue in economically destabilized communities. His projects attempt to instigate the creation of cultural capital by acting as catalysts for social engagement that leads to political and spatial change. Theaster Gates has described his working method as “critique through collaboration” – often with architects, researchers and performers – to create works that stretch the idea of what we usually understand visual-based practices to be.

Theaster Gates has had numerous solo exhibitions in the United States and internationally, among which Museu de Serralves (Porto) in 2014 and MCA Chicago in 2013. The recent project “The Black Madonna”, has been developed on the basis of various formats going from performance, photography and music, exploring the history of the black woman and its image. It takes roots in the significant archives of Johnson Publishing Corporation, publisher of Jet and Ebony magazines, based in Chicago. “The Black Madonna”, was presented at Kunstmuseum Basel (9 June - 21 October, 2018) and Sprengel Museum, Hanover (23 June - 09 September, 2018). Theaster Gates participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial, New York in 2010 as well as in Documenta 13, Kassel in 2012, and more recently in the 56th Venice Biennial and in the 14th Istanbul Biennial in 2015. He is regularly holding live events with his musical ensemble, the Black Monks of Mississippi. “

"Colorful, Contemporary South African Beadworks Express Story of Tragedy, Hope and Healing"

 Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence.

Bongiswa Ntobela (South African, 1973?2009)
Funky Bull, 2006
Glass beads sewn onto fabric
The Ubuhle Private Collection

“Experience the color and shine of intricate beaded artworks in Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence. On view at the Chrysler Museum of Art from Oct. 18, 2018–Feb. 24, 2019, the exhibition showcases a new form of textile art known as the ndwango and presents a story of rural South African women overcoming hardships and illness to achieve artistic significance and economic independence.

Beadwork is a customary form of artistic expression for South African women and is passed down through the generations. Ubuhle Women was established by Ntombephi Ntobela and Bev Gibson in 1999 on a former sugar plantation in KwaZulu-Natal. It created employment for rural women using the traditional skills many of them already possessed. The plain black fabric that serves as the foundation for the Ubuhle Women’s exquisite beadwork is reminiscent of the Xhosa headscarves and skirts many of the women wore growing up. The artists stretch this textile like a canvas and use colored Czech glass beads to transform the flat cloth into a contemporary art form of remarkable visual depth. Gibson, the visionary of the traveling exhibition, says “the works are so beautiful, there’s nothing to understand.” Ntobela says the women work in their own unique style “directly from the soul” to create abstract and figurative subjects for their ndwangos.

“There are fascinating, culturally specific elements in these artworks like patterning influenced by traditional Zulu and Xosa clothing and adornment as well as imagery and subject matter that speak to a universal humanity that we all share and can relate to. No matter who we are, we can identify with a person’s sorrow, joy, hopes and journeys of healing,” said Carolyn Swan Needell, Ph.D., the Chrysler Museum’s Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass.

Remembering the dead is a key motivation for the creation of many of these artworks, and it imbues them with a spiritual significance. Since 2006, the Ubuhle community has lost five artists to HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer and other illnesses, nearly halving the number of active artists. Many of the ndwangos function as memorials to Ubuhle sisters who have lost their lives. Due to the slow, meticulous process of creating the ndwango, the act of beading becomes a form of therapy. It is a way of setting down the issues that are closest to the artists’ hearts, a way of grieving and a place to encode feelings and memories. “The ndwango as a medium might be considered a ‘portrait’ of each artist as every work is a deeply personal recording that captures the artist’s experiences as well as her distinctive style of working and signature colors, patterns and imagery,” said Swan Needell.

Ubuhle means “beauty” in the Xhosa and Zulu languages and aptly describes the shimmering quality of light on glass, which has a particular spiritual significance for the Xhosa people. From a distance, each panel of an ndwango seems to present a continuous surface, but as the viewer moves closer and each tiny bead catches the light, the meticulous skill and labor that went into each work becomes stunningly apparent, as does the sheer scale of artistic ambition. A single panel can take more than 10 months to complete.

Four ndwangos with imagery of South African breeds of cattle such as Boran, Ankoli and Nguni are among the exhibition highlights. Each represents an actual animal studied by the artist. The bulls and cows remind the women of their fathers, mothers, grandmothers and sisters while the color palette and patterns reflect personal traits like strength, courage, energy, dignity and love. Another highlight from the exhibition is the monumental artwork The African Crucifixion. Although telling a biblical story, the crucifixion of Christ is seen through the eyes of a community of women who are dealing with the key issues of 21st-century life in rural South Africa — health, food, water, employment and security.

Also on view at the Chrysler are photographs of five active Ubuhle artists by renowned South African photographer Zanele Muholi. In these photographic portraits, Muholi captures the dignity and confidence of the Ubuhle Women. Empowered as artists, the women have gained a growing sense of themselves as women with a voice.”


"Exhibition of New Sculpture and Drawings by Paloma Varga Weisz Opens at Gladstone Gallery"

“Gladstone Gallery is presenting an exhibition of new sculpture and drawings by Paloma Varga Weisz. Her idiosyncratic, anachronistic, and thoughtful wood carvings utilize traditional techniques, used for centuries in the creation of ecclesiastical sculpture. Varga Weisz, however, works against the grain of tradition in subtle ways through figures that draw on obscure references to art history, current events, and medieval iconography. Endowing each of these figures with a palpable psychology, her hand manifests different interior states and affective postures. Seen together with her drawings, Varga Weisz’s practice seems populated with repertory company of surreal players, akin to neo-platonic intermediaries moving between imagination’s hinterland to our reality via her intuitive touch.


For this exhibition, Varga Weisz creates fantastical animal-human hybrids that emerge from an imaginative terrain wherein the miraculous shapes of the title shed light on both the chimerical and the humane. These iterations of arcane relics transform the gallery space, inviting viewers into what critic Alessandro Rabottini describes as “the vastness of…inner experience, that nervous system of simultaneity which is out experience once it shifts away from the here-and-now and occupies a space in which memory, present, and imagination coexist.” Whether left in their original wooden state or surfaced with metallic leafing or polychrome, the figures emerge from this place of interior wonder through Varga Weisz’s acuity for both craft and fine art traditions. Perhaps a collection of strange figures held in the wunderkammer of the mind, each sculpture possesses both a distinct bearing and semblance of relationships to each other—a family of characters that animate darker strata of being: a Janus-like head of multiplying faces recalls both mythological creatures from Northern European illuminations and Brancusi’s curvilinear modernist sculpture. Often removing figures from their original context, Varga Weisz appropriates both well-known and fancifully idiomatic tropes and reconfigures them as a constellation of archetypes that elucidate representations of femininity, history, and the grotesque. It is in a strange time/place where her practice resides; the twilight liminality of dreams and realities where the known and the unknown meet and feel estrangingly akin to each of us.

Paloma Varga Weisz lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany. Her work has been presented in major solo exhibitions at the Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Salzburger Kunstverein; Kunstmuseum Kurhaus Kleve; Skulpturenhalle, Thomas Schütte Foundation, Neuss/Holzheim, Germany; the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; the Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany (with Rosemarie Trockel). She has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hayward Gallery, London; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Whitechapel, London; the Venice Biennale; and the Berlin Biennale. She trained at Staatliche Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf. In the fall of 2019, she will be the subject of a solo mid-career retrospective at the Bonnenfantenmuseum in Maastricht, Netherlands.”

"The Met Opens an Exhibition Focusing on Early Painting Styles that Emerged in The Pahari Courts of North India"


“The Metropolitan Museum of Art is presenting an exhibition focusing on early painting styles that emerged in the Pahari courts of North India during the 17th and 18th centuries. Featuring some 20 of the most refined paintings produced in South Asia during the period, Seeing the Divine: Pahari Painting of North India examines the innovative ways in which Pahari artists depicted the Hindu gods. By juxtaposing devotional images with emotionally charged narrative moments, the paintings gave royal patrons a novel approach to forging a personal connection with the divine through devotion (bhakti). Highlights include a rare, early 19th-century temple banner measuring 26 feet that is being shown publicly for the first time. The majority of the works on view are recent promised gifts of Steven Kossak, and they transform The Met’s ability to showcase 17th- to 18th-century North Indian painting of the highest caliber.

Working mostly in miniatures and large-format folios, Pahari artists employed remarkably innovative vocabularies. They often depicted god as a child, a lover, a terrible protector, or even a personal vision. Famous narratives such as the Ramayana and the Gita Govinda (Song of Govinda) had tremendous appeal at the Pahari courts, and the exhibition includes folios that reference both. The Monkey Leader Angada Steals Ravana’s Crown from His Fortress (ca. 1725), a folio from the Ramayana (the story of Rama’s quest to save his beloved Sita from the demon Ravana), is attributed to the master painter Manaku (active ca. 1725–60). Radha and Krishna Walking at Night (ca. 1775–80), a folio from the Gita Govinda, depicts Krishna’s emotionally charged interactions with Radha—here, the artist contrasts her solitude and longing with erotically charged encounters to emphasize the idea of unity between god and devotee.

The impressive temple banner recounts the complex story of Krishna’s rescue and marriage to his first wife, Rukmini, as well as dramatic scenes of Krishna and his many followers fighting a heroic battle in the Himalayan foothills—a battle that represents the great conflict between gods and demons to restore cosmic order.

The exhibition is organized by Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator of the Department of Asian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.”


"King Tutankhamun’s treasures come to London's Saatchi Gallery before returning to Egypt forever"

“150 ancient artefacts will be displayed in a major exhibition commemorating the centenary of the discovery of the pharaoh’s tomb.

cairo egyptian museum-golden shrine of a statue-carter108

The largest collection of the pharaoh Tutankhamun’s treasures to ever travel out of Egypt will come to the Saatchi Gallery in London later this year. Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh (2 November 2019-3 May 2020) will commemorate the centenary of the discovery of the ancient-Egyptian ruler’s tomb with original 150 artefacts to go on display, 60 of which have never travelled outside of Egypt.

This will be the third leg of the show, which opened in March 2018 at the California Science Centre in Los Angeles before travelling to La Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris (1 March-31 September). The exhibition will tour 10 cities in total. A spokeswoman was unable to disclose which cities the exhibition will travel to after London.

Among the exhibited works will be a golden canopic coffinette used to house Tuttenkhamun’s mummified stomach, and a 5cm-tall golden statue (1336-1326BC) which contemporary scholars now believe to be a likeness for Tutanhkhamun rather than his grandfather as was originally thought.

These ancient artefacts, which were housed in the nearly-intact tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun, were discovered in 1922 by the British archaeologist Howard Carter. Previous exhibitions in London have drawn record crowds of over one million visitors each in both 1972 and 2007. Both these shows contained less than 55 artefacts from the tomb, roughly a third of the number of works which will be displayed in this exhibition.

The proceeds from this exhibition will help support the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo which is expected to open in 2020. Upon the show’s conclusion, Tutankhamun's artefacts will return to Egypt and be permanently displayed in the museum.

The exhibition will consist of nine immersive galleries incorporating digital content and audio which "will follow Tutankhamun's passage into everlasting life". Dr Mostafa Waziry, the secretary general of the ministry of state for antiquities in Egypt, says, “to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, Egypt is sending 150 masterpieces to tour all over the world. Please see them, visit them, before they return back to Egypt forever."

"Met Hands Over an Egyptian Coffin that it Says Was Looted"

“Describing itself as a victim of fraud, museum says it cooperated with district attorney's investigation

Less than two years after an acquisition, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that it had handed over a first-century BC gilded coffin to the Manhattan district attorney for return to the Egyptian government after discovering that it had been looted in 2011.

The Met’s statement said it had been “fully cooperative” in recent months with an investigation by the district attorney’s office into the coffin’s origins.


The museum acquired the coffin of Nedjemankh, which was until this week the centrepiece of a Met exhibition, in July 2017 from what it then described as a private collection. The institution says it now realises that it was given a fraudulent ownership history as well as a forged 1971 Egyptian export license for the coffin.

A Met spokesman says the coffin was purchased from the Paris-based dealer Christophe Kunicki for €3.5m. He says that the museum is pursuing a "variety of remedies" against the dealer and that the coffin was delivered to the district attorney's office today.

A man who answered the telephone at a number listed for Kunicki in Paris and who declined to identify himself beyond saying he was speaking for "Mr. Kunicki’s office” said that the dealer had just learned about the Met’s announcement in an email.

“I can tell you that the provenance file we provided to the Metropolitan Museum, to my best knowledge, was absolutely correct,” he said. “We want to know what is happening because we don’t understand what is happening. It’s absolutely unbelievable–it’s a terrible surprise for us.”

He confirmed that the coffin was purchased from a private collection but declined to identify it. “Now we are going to call our lawyer,” he said.

The discovery that the coffin was looted raises questions about the scrutiny that exported treasures undergo during the Met’s acquisition process.

The museum emphasised in its statement that all of the Met’s acquisitions undergo “a rigorous vetting process” in line with a 1970 Unesco treaty, federal and state laws and the Association of Art Museum Directors’ guidelines on the acquisition of ancient art and archaeological materials.

The Met quoted Max Hollein, the museum’s director, as saying, “We will learn from this event–specifically I will be leading a review of our acquisitions programme–to understand what more can be done to prevent such events in the future.”

He said the museum “must be a leader among our peers in the respect for cultural property and in the rigour and transparency of the policy and practices that we follow”.

The Met described itself as a victim of deceit. “After we learned that the museum was a victim of fraud and unwittingly participated in the illegal trade of antiquities, we worked with the DA’s office for its return to Egypt,” says Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive. “The nation of Egypt has been a strong partner of the museum for over a century. We extend our apologies to Dr. Khaled El-Enany, minister of antiquities, and the people of Egypt, and our appreciation to District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.’s office for its investigation, and now commit ourselves to identifying how justice can be served, and how we can help to deter future offenses against cultural property.”

The coffin had been on view since 20 July 2018 in Nedjemankh and His Gilded Coffin, an exhibition in which it was displayed along with 70 other works from the Met’s collection. According to the Met, the coffin is inscribed with the name Nedjemankh, a high-ranking priest of the Egyptian ram-god Heryshef of Herakleopolis. Its surface is decorated with scenes and texts in gesso relief that the museum says were intended to guide Nedjemankh on his spiritual journey from death to eternal life.”

"Dealer Discovers Ancient Fragment from Seti I's Tomb in Valley of Kings"

“A dealer due to stand at the world’s most important art fair for the first time has revealed an astonishing discovery linked to the 3300-year-old tomb of Pharaoh Seti I.

Antonia Eberwein, of Galerie Eberwein Ancient Art in Paris, has helped fill in a missing piece of the jigsaw to shed light on the tomb, which has had to be sealed for the past 30 years because of deterioration.


Dealer discovers ancient fragment from Seti I's tomb in Valley of Kings

Antonia Eberwein, of Galerie Eberwein Ancient Art in Paris, will unveil the piece at TEFAF Maastricht on March 16.

PARIS.- A dealer due to stand at the world’s most important art fair for the first time has revealed an astonishing discovery linked to the 3300-year-old tomb of Pharaoh Seti I.

Antonia Eberwein, of Galerie Eberwein Ancient Art in Paris, has helped fill in a missing piece of the jigsaw to shed light on the tomb, which has had to be sealed for the past 30 years because of deterioration.

Despite being one of the best-known tombs in the Valley of the Kings and having seen millions of visitors, Seti I’s resting place remains one of the most mysterious and unknown of Egypt’s monuments to the cult of the dead.

Humidity and tourists have had a damaging effect on the colours and clarity of the designs and hieroglyphs in the tomb, and only a few, rather inaccurate drawings of the interior have ever been published.

When Giovanni Belzoni, who discovered the tomb in October 1817, first entered it, he found wall paintings, some still looking fresh, and even artists’ paints and brushes on the floor.

He set about recording what he saw, and even created a model of the entire tomb, which was put on display in Piccadilly Circus in London in 1821. At the time, the tomb became the most popular attraction in the Valley of the Kings, and it was over a century before it was overshadowed by the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Later expeditions removed other parts, which can now be found in the Louvre, as well as museums in Florence and Berlin, and further excavations in the 1950s and ’60s led to the collapse of parts of the tomb.

In 1824, the British Consul, Henry Salt, with the help of Belzoni, had the sarcophagus removed and shipped to London, where it rests in Sir John Soane’s Museum. Four years later, Jean-François Champollion, famously the man who unlocked the secrets of hieroglyphs by translating the Rosetta Stone, damaged the tomb by removing a wall panel from a corridor.

All of these interventions contributed to on-going frustration over understanding of the tomb, as they destroyed evidence and led to access being restricted. Perhaps most frustratingly, Belzoni’s original recording of the tomb was never completed and so gaps remain over details to key areas. Eberwein’s discovery fills one of those gaps.

Seti’s tomb, the longest in the Valley of the Kings at 450 feet and the first to be decorated throughout, consists of 11 chambers and two side rooms, designed and decorated to protect the dead in the afterlife, record the voyage of the afterlife and ensure the continuation of the cycle of the Sun. These are all encapsulated in The Book of the Dead and The Book of Gates, whose inscriptions and images depict the Pharaoh with the gods and life in the Netherworld, the stories extending along the walls of the tomb.

Eberwein explains how everything started.

“A few months before I bought the fragment I went to the exhibition in Basel called Scanning Seti, which was about what they are doing about the tomb, scanning every little piece of it and adding to the jigsaw by scanning museum material from around the world to create as complete an image of the tomb as they can in digital form."

Having seen all this detail on display, when I came across the fragment, part of a funerary bas-relief that was being dispersed from a private collection, a few months later, I realised that it might be linked to the tomb and I bought it.”

Just as Belzoni’s drawings were never completed, so the photographic record published by Harry Burton in 1920 also failed to cover the whole contents of the tomb. Drawings recorded during the 1882-84 French mission had also left gaps.

“Looking at the fragment, I realised that it must come from an area that was not recorded by any of them, so I contacted the Egyptologist, Florence Barberio, who is working on the scanning project, to see what she thought.”

The response was astounding.

“She sent me an email that not only confirmed that it came from Seti’s tomb, but that the length of the inscription on it made it possible to identify the text and the provenance.”

It transpired that the inscription was an excerpt from The Book of Gates, which was located in the room of the sarcophagus with a yellow painted background.

“According to its content and the orientation of the signs to the left, the text most likely belongs to the 2nd door (preceding the 3rd hour of the Book), and corresponds to a fragment of the 1st column (the text reading from the right to the left),” Barberio wrote.

So the inscription actually identified the exact location of the fragment within the tomb. Next, Eberwein returned to Belzoni’s drawings, “and I realised that it came from an area just beyond the edge of where he stopped drawing. Did he stop there because the corner had already crumbled or because he became too tired (he is known to have given up because of this)? We will never know.”

Eberwein has since lent the fragment for scanning and it has now been added to the digital record, making its contribution to the project of creating as complete a 3D picture of the entire tomb as possible.

“This was such an exciting find because so little of this type of material still available on the market,” says Eberwein, who will be unveiling the piece in March on her stand at TEFAF Maastricht, where she will be exhibiting for the first time. The asking price for the piece will be €70,000.

“The discovery itself was one of those very rare moments one enjoys during a long career, but the opportunity to contribute to the scanning project and Egyptian scholarship in the process is what made it extra special.”

"Possible Maya Steam Bath Found In Guatemala"


“According to a Science in Poland report, a team of researchers led by Wiesław Koszkul and Jarosław Źrałka of the Institute of Archaeology at Jagiellonian University have uncovered a stone structure at Guatemala’s Maya site of Nakum that may have served as the foundation of a steam bath as early as 700 B.C. The excavators first discovered the entrance to a tunnel carved out of rock in an area of the site surrounded by temples, pyramids, and palaces. The tunnel leads to a set of stairs, and then a second tunnel, which ends in a rectangular room with rock-cut benches. An oval hearth in the wall opposite the entrance to the room is thought to have been used to heat large stones. Water would then have been poured over them to create steam. Koszkul and Źrałka suggest the excess water would have flowed into a hollow in the middle of the bath’s rock floor, and out of the structure through a drain channel in the tunnels. The researchers also found pottery and obsidian tools in the tunnels, which may have been used during rituals held in the steam bath. The structure was completely sealed with mortar and rubble around 300 B.C., Koszkul said, perhaps as result of social and religious changes in Maya society. To read in-depth about the burial of a Maya king in Guatemala, go to “Tomb of the Vulture Lord.”

"What Made this Ancient Society Sacrifice its Own Children?"

“Some 500 years ago, the Chimú in what is now Peru ritually killed hundreds of their young in the largest mass child sacrifice events known in world history. Now archaeologists are trying to understand why.

THE YOUNG VICTIM lies in a shallow grave in a vacant lot strewn with trash. It’s the Friday before Easter here in Huanchaquito, a hamlet on the north coast of Peru.


The throb of dance music, drifting up from seaside cafés a few hundred yards to the west, sounds eerily like a pulsing heart. It’s accompanied by the soft chuf, chuf of shovels as workers clear away broken glass, plastic bottles, and spent shotgun shells to reveal the outline of a tiny burial pit cut into an ancient layer of mud.

Two college students—archaeologists in training, wearing hospital scrubs and masks—splay on their stomachs on either side of the grave and begin digging with trowels.

The first thing to appear is the crest of a child’s skull, topped with a thatch of black hair. Switching from trowels to paintbrushes, the excavators carefully sweep away the loose sand, exposing the rest of the skull and revealing skeletal shoulders poking through a coarse cotton shroud. Eventually the remains of a tiny, golden-furred llama come into view, curled alongside the child.

Gabriel Prieto, a professor of archaeology from the National University of Trujillo, peers into the grave and nods. “Ninety-five,” he announces. He’s keeping a running tally of victims, and this one, labeled E95, is the 95th dug up since he first began investigating the mass burial site in 2011. The grim count from this and a second sacrifice site nearby will ultimately add up to 269 children between the ages of five and 14 and three adults. All of the victims perished more than 500 years ago in carefully orchestrated acts of ritual sacrifice that may be unprecedented in world history.

“This is something completely unexpected,” exclaims Prieto, shaking his head in bewilderment. The words have become a kind of mantra as the archaeologist and father struggles to make sense of the harrowing discovery at a site called Huanchaquito-Las Llamas. In our time and culture, the violent death of even one child rends all but the most callous hearts, and the specter of mass murder horrifies every healthy mind. And so, we wonder: What desperate circumstances might account for an act that’s unthinkable to us today?

Archaeologists have found evidence of human sacrifice in all parts of the world. Victims may number in the hundreds, and often they’re deemed to have been prisoners of war, or casualties of ritual combat, or retainers killed upon the death of a leader or the construction of a sacred building. Ancient texts, including the Hebrew Bible, attest to the practice of child sacrifice, but clear evidence of mass killings of children is rare in the archaeological record. Until the discovery at Huanchaquito (pronounced wan-cha-KEE-toe), the largest known child sacrifice site in the Americas—and possibly the entire world—was at Templo Mayor in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán (modern-day Mexico City), where 42 children were slain in the 15th century.

Prieto grew up in Huanchaco (pronounced wan-CHA-co), the town that encompasses Huanchaquito. As a child, he hunted for beads outside the 16th-century Spanish colonial church that perches on the town’s highest hill. He recalls spending afternoons on the southern edge of town exploring the adobe ruins of Chan Chan, the ancient capital of the Chimú people. At its peak in the 15th century, Chan Chan was one of the largest cities in the Americas, the seat of power for an empire that stretched some 300 miles along the Peruvian coast.

Those childhood experiences inspired Prieto to become an archaeologist, and while earning a doctorate from Yale, he returned to his hometown to excavate a 3,500-year-old temple.

Then in 2011 the owner of a local pizza shop shared startling news: His children—and the neighborhood dogs—were finding human bones sticking out of the sand of a nearby vacant lot. He implored the archaeologist to investigate.

At first Prieto thought the site was simply a long-forgotten cemetery. But after recovering the remains of several children wrapped in shrouds—remains that radiocarbon analysis dated to between A.D. 1400 and 1450—the archaeologist realized that he had stumbled onto a much bigger discovery.

The burials, Prieto noticed, weren’t typical of the Chimú. The children were interred in unusual positions—prone on their backs or curled on their sides instead of sitting upright, as was customary—and they lacked the adornments, pottery, and other grave goods commonly found in Chimú burials.

Instead, many were buried alongside very young llamas and possibly alpacas. As vital sources of food, fiber, and transport, these Andean animals were among the Chimú’s most valuable assets. And finally there was this: Many of the children and animals had visible cut marks across their sternum and ribs.

To help make sense of the clues, Prieto called John Verano, a biological anthropologist and forensic expert at Tulane University. Verano has decades of experience analyzing physical evidence of ritual violence in the Andes, including a 13th-century Chimú massacre of some 200 men and boys at the site of Punta Lobos.

After examining the remains from Huanchaquito, Verano confirmed that the children and animals were deliberately killed in the same manner—with a horizontal cut across the sternum, likely followed by removal of the heart. He found the consistency of the cut location, as well as the absence of any “hesitation marks”—stop-starts of the knife blade—on the bones especially striking. “It’s ritual killing, and it’s very systematic,” he said.

But reconstructing events at Huanchaquito is difficult, mainly because archaeologists and historians know very little about the Chimú. Theirs may be the greatest empire that few have ever heard of, bookended in history by two civilizations that loom much larger in the popular imagination: the Moche, whose stunning murals depict the bloody sacrifice of war captives, and the Inca, who vanquished the Chimú around 1470, only to be conquered by Spanish invaders little more than 60 years later.

The Chimú left no written records, so other than archaeological findings, what little is known of them comes from Spanish chronicles. Those accounts claim that the Inca sacrificed hundreds of children upon the installation or death of a king—an assertion for which there is as yet no archaeological evidence—but they offer no hint that the Chimú practiced child sacrifice on a similar scale. “Until now, we had no idea that the Chimú did anything like that,” Verano says, referring to the unprecedented number of victims. “It’s the luck of archaeology.”

One major clue to what happened at Huanchaquito is the thick layer of ancient, dried mud in which the sacrificial victims were buried. Deep mud means heavy rain, and on the arid coast of northern Peru, “such rains usually only come with El Niño,” Prieto explains.

Chan Chan’s population was sustained by carefully managed irrigation systems and coastal fisheries, both of which could have been thrown into disarray by the higher sea temperatures and heavy downpours associated with the climatic event. A severe El Niño, the researchers theorize, may have shaken the political and economic stability of the Chimú kingdom. Its priests and leaders may have ordered the mass sacrifice in a desperate attempt to persuade the gods to stop the rain and the chaos.

“This number of children, this number of animals—it would have been a massive investment on behalf of the state,” Prieto says.

Jane Eva Baxter, an anthropology professor at DePaul University who specializes in the history of children and childhood, agrees that the Chimú may have considered their children among the most valuable offerings they could present to the gods.

“You’re sacrificing the future and all that potential,” she says. “All of the energy and effort that’s gone into continuing your family, continuing your society into the future—you’re taking that away when you take a child.”

Offering children also may represent an evolution in the way pre-Columbian societies in northern Peru sought to win favor in the spirit world.

Haagen Klaus, a professor of anthropology at George Mason University, points out that child sacrifice became more common in the region after the fall of the Moche (the culture that preceded the Chimú) in the ninth century. The Moche sacrificed large numbers of captive adult warriors at their Temple of the Moon, just a few miles and a few centuries distant from where the Chimú later ruled at Chan Chan.

“With the end of the Moche, the ideas got old, and the rituals lost their potency,” Klaus says. “There seems to be something much bigger that the people at Chan Chan got plugged into. Sacrifices are very carefully constructed negotiations and forms of communication with the supernatural. It’s the Chimú interacting with the cosmos as they understood it.”

The need to placate the spirits and stop the rain may have been urgent, but the mass sacrifice itself appears to have been carefully orchestrated. The young llamas—another important resource, culled from state-owned herds—seem to have been specially selected for the event.

Nicolas Goepfert, an expert on camelids at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, analyzed the well-preserved coats of the four-legged victims. He determined that the Chimú likely chose particular animals to sacrifice based on their age and color. Dark brown llamas often were interred together with light brown llamas, for example, while no white or black animals were sacrificed.

“We know from the Spanish chronicles that the Inca had a color code for sacrificial llamas,” Goepfert explains. “Maybe the Chimú selected them that way as well.”

How the children were chosen for their terrible fate remains a mystery. Scientific studies show that those killed at Huanchaquito were both boys and girls, all of whom appear to have been well cared for, with little sign of malnutrition or disease. Isotopic analysis of their teeth suggests that they came from many regions of the sprawling Chimú Empire. The backs of some of the children’s skulls are unnaturally elongated, evidence of a deliberate cranial modification that was practiced only in the remote highlands.

But many questions remain unanswered. Did the children come from elite families or poor ones? Without burial goods, it’s impossible to know. How many families lost children in the sacrifice? Were they given up willingly in the face of impending disaster, or let go under compulsion? For now, archaeologists have no answers. But telltale signs and forensic clues are helping them reconstruct the sequence of events.

The pattern of footprints and tracks preserved in the dried mud indicates that there was a formal procession to the sacrifice site. The prints of small bare feet, as well as those of four-legged animals being dragged against their will, make Prieto and Verano think the victims were led alive to their graves, where they were killed. A lack of insects in the remains means the children were carefully wrapped in shrouds and promptly buried alongside the llamas.

That dreadful task may have fallen to two adult women who were killed by blows to the head and buried among the children on the northern side of the site. Nearby were the remains of an adult male, lying on his back under a pile of rocks. His unusually robust build leads the archaeologists to wonder if he might have been the executioner.

Did the costly offering bring relief from the flooding rains? It’s impossible to know, but the disturbing event may be a window into the last, desperate years of a dying empire.

“Here you are when you have the most to lose, and you’re giving the most,” Baxter says. “It speaks volumes about where the Chimú were at this moment and in this place.”

Within decades, Inca warriors would arrive at the walls of Chan Chan and depose the Chimú.

Months after wrapping up the excavation at Huanchaquito, Prieto sends word that he has uncovered more sacrificed children and llamas at a location known as Pampa la Cruz. The new site is another empty lot on a high hill, only this one is crowned by a large wooden crucifix, hence its name. The cross was erected more than a century ago by a grateful fisherman who survived near drowning.

A bit farther south along the coast, a new monument built to honor the sacrificial victims of Huanchaquito features a statue of a young boy and a llama surrounded by freshly planted palm trees, one for each human victim. The crest of Pampa la Cruz offers an unobstructed view west to the sea, and when I visit during the Peruvian winter, a few daring surfers are braving the cold waters. By now Prieto has uncovered the remains of another 132 Chimú children, most executed with the familiar horizontal incision across the chest and buried in simple shrouds. His running tally of victims found at the two sites now stands at 269 children, three adults, and 466 llamas.

But what’s throwing Prieto for a loop are nine burials clustered at the top of the hill and dug into the ruins of an earlier Moche-era shrine facing the sea.

These graves also hold Chimú children, but they were buried in robes and elaborate headdresses adorned with parrot feathers and carved wooden ornaments. None of the nine victims bear the usual cut marks to the chest, but the skull of one was severely damaged by what must have been a lethal blow to the head.

During the week that I’m at the site, Prieto unearths an enormous copper knife with a rattle on one end that’s unlike anything previously discovered by any archaeologist. “My god, what is this?” he blurts out. Could it be the very knife used to kill the children buried here? The possibility is both thrilling and appalling.

Prieto is still struggling to understand the motivation and logic behind the mass killings. But one afternoon as he breaks for lunch, he shares an old story that casts a more charitable light on the Chimú. The colonial chronicles describe an event following the Inca and Spanish conquests in which Don Antonio Jaguar, the leader of the now beleaguered Chimú, escorts his new Spanish overlords to a cache of priceless treasure.

The legend in Huanchaco, Prieto says, is that Don Antonio pointed them to the peje chico—the lesser treasure—and that the peje grande has yet to be discovered.

“I’d like to think that the children are the peje grande, that they were what was most precious to the Chimú,” Prieto says thoughtfully, pushing rice around his plate with a fork. “Their lives must have been worth more than gold.”

"Ancient Amazonian Chocolatiers"


“Trenches Ecuador Santa Ana La Florida Block Real(Courtesy Michael Blake, The University of British Columbia; Courtesy Sonia Zarrillo) Hearth and tomb, Santa Ana-La Florida, Ecuador Cacao seeds, the raw material used to make chocolate, were being consumed in southeastern Ecuador much earlier than archaeologists have thought. The evidence comes from chemical analysis of bottles found at an ancient village now called Santa Ana-La Florida. "We were surprised at how clear the evidence of cacao use is 5,300 years ago and that it continues throughout the 3,000-year history of the site," says archaeologist Michael Blake of the University of British Columbia.

Ancient Ecuadorean cacao was, in all likelihood, not made into candy bars or anything else resembling modern chocolate. The people fermented the seeds and then dried and ground them to make a beverage. Modern indigenous people in Ecuador use cacao as a medicine and a stimulant, as well as an ingredient in food and drink. Domesticated cacao, researchers suggest, was traded from South American to Meso-american cultures, such as the Maya and Aztecs, starting at least 3,900 years ago.”

"Unpacking Medieval African Art's Profound Global Legacy"

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“In popular discourse, the arts of Africa are positioned as having been discovered, interpolated, and folded into major Western art movements for the first time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The rise of modern art was concurrent with the “Scramble for Africa,” which officially began at the Berlin Conference in 1884, when European powerheads divided and claimed ownership over the majority of the nearly 12 million square miles that comprise the continent. As they’ve been codified by historians, these events imply that there was nothing happening in Africa prior to the arrival of Europeans; as German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel dismissively wrote, Africa is “no historical part of the world,” with “no movement or development to exhibit.”

Although several decades of archaeological and paleontological excavations have proven that life on this planet began in Africa, by and large, the continent has remained shrouded in a myopically dense, Eurocentric fog. Accounts of the existence of major cities and empires in Africa during the Middle Ages and before—including Kush in present-day southern Egypt and central Sudan, Axum in what is now Ethiopia, and Great Zimbabwe in modern-day Zimbabwe—are myriad. The legacy of colonialism, however, often overshadows more than a millennia of African history.

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A new exhibition at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University aims to shine a light on Africa’s significant connections to and influence on the economy and material culture of the world—centuries before the calamitous brutality of imperialism and the transatlantic slave trade.

Opening on January 26th, “Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture and Exchange Across Medieval Saharan Africa” shifts the line of inquiry to center medieval Africa’s global influence through trans-Saharan trade networks in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia prior to the development of the slave trade. Dr. Kathleen Berzock, the Block’s associate director of curatorial affairs, organized the exhibition through cross-disciplinary partnerships with the Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern, as well as with historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists in Mali, Morocco, and Nigeria.

Showcasing over 250 objects (including artworks and archaeological fragments) spanning four continents and nearly a millennia, the show hopes to “shine a light on Africa’s pivotal role in world history through the tangible materials that remain,” Dr. Berzock explained, because “the legacy of medieval trans-Saharan exchange has largely been omitted from Western historical narratives and art histories, and certainly from the way that Africa is presented in art museums.”

Before now, the breadth of medieval Africa’s reach has been all but untapped in art-historical discourse. The majority of exhibitions have not highlighted the ways in which African material cultures had strong connections to economies and cultural production in other parts of the world. Objects like an ivory Madonna figurine from 12th-century France—carved from the tusks of African Savannah elephants—take on new resonance in the context of the trans-Saharan trade route. So does an extremely intricate 15th-century lost-wax cast from Nigeria, made of copper from the Alpine region. Such objects unequivocally establish Africa’s status as a global commercial center, and illustrate partnerships based on mutual benefit, rather than relationships marred by unequal exchange.

Among the most interesting fragments in the show is a Qingbai pottery shard made of Chinese porcelain unearthed at Tadmekka in Mali. With more than 6,000 miles between these two regions, the shard shows precisely how vast and intricate medieval trade networks across the Sahara were. Spices, copper, ivory, gold, salt, and other commodities made West Africa a region of renown across the medieval world.

A map from 14th-century Catalonia in present-day Spain prominently featuring Mansā Mūsā, or Mūsā Keita I, the ruler of Mali, denotes that Europeans took notice of the empire early on. Said to be the richest person to have ever lived—a feat even for modern standards—Mansā Mūsā presided over 1,200 miles of land; his empire included much of present-day Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, and was peppered with plentiful gold and salt mines at a time of decline in European production.

From 1324 to 1325, the Muslim leader voyaged from Timbuktu to Mecca on the hajj, setting out with a convoy of 15,000 subjects. According to contemporary accounts, the caravan was as long as the eye could see. Along the journey, the emperor lavished gifts of gold on everyone he met, strategically establishing key diplomatic relationships. Reports of Mansā Mūsā’s fantastic wealth made their way to Europe, and Mansā Mūsā and the Mali kingdom were quite literally put on the map in 1339. Algerian scholar Tahar Abbou writes that among the consequences of Mansā’s journey was that it “stirred the European ambitions” to explore Africa in search of Mansā’s gold source, bypassing the North African merchants who had previously acted as middlemen in the trans-Saharan trade.

Because of Mansā Mūsā’s influence, in its golden age, Timbuktu was renowned as one of the world’s major centers of knowledge, trade, and Islamic culture. Most of the surviving texts from which we learn of Mansā Mūsā’s exploits, and the histories of the trans-Saharan trade, are in Arabic, largely written by Islamic merchants and scholars. “We want people to also think about who wrote that story, and what other ways there are to tell the story,” Lisa Corrin, the director of the Block Museum, told Artsy. Berzock agrees: “These ‘fragments in time’ are key to conjuring a new vision of the past,” she said. “We have a unique opportunity to use art history to contextualize these fragments and to use the special context of the museum to make visible the story of the thriving African cities and empires that were foundational to the global medieval world.”

Amid tense calls from contemporary African leaders for Western museums to return looted artifacts, the Block Museum chose to collaborate with African institutions like the Musée National and L’Institut des Sciences Humaines in Mali and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in Nigeria. Their efforts brought an unprecedented trove of items as-yet unseen outside of Africa to the exhibition. Highlights range from a delicate, indigo-dyed woven fabric thought to be among the oldest existing African textiles, to terracotta and bronze sculptures predating the famed Benin bronzes.

“Caravans of Gold” is the first exhibition in recent memory to apply a wide lens to the pre-colonial period of African civilizations and their impact to effectively challenge what we think we know about the world. It’s a fallacious notion that Africa is without history, one that ultimately fuels the racialized subjugation and exploitation of people of African descent around the globe. The museum’s decision to present fragments is a novel one; it requires the viewer to make inferences and employ reasoning in a way that the standard, tacit relationship between a viewer and an art object typically does not. As we move forward in our efforts to transform narrative cycles that do not reflect who we want to be as a global society, this juxtaposition of fragments can be instructive: Nothing, history included, is ever totally complete. Understanding expands and contracts based on what details are placed in dialogue together, and fragments present an opportunity for robust critical engagement, analysis, and—most importantly—to stoke the imagination.”

BY: Niama Safia Sandy

"Varanasi's Temple Corridor Destroys Old Neighborhood"

“India's ancient city of Varanasi is clearing the way for a grand temple corridor by razing hundreds of houses, wiping away its oldest neighbourhood and upsetting locals.

The aim is to improve accessibility for pilgrims by providing a direct pathway from the Ganges river to the 18th-century shrine of Lord Shiva, the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

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For centuries Hindus have visited Varanasi to cremate their dead but it has often required navigating crowded alleyways to reach the city's ghats, or riverside steps, where the caretakers of the cremation grounds pass flaming torches to the bereaved families to ignite wooden pyres dotting the banks.

Some 300 homes have been earmarked for demolition but locals, whose families have lived in the area for generations, say some of the properties being destroyed are as old as the temple itself.

Local resident Ajay Kapoor hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose constituency is Varanasi.

"Why should he care? By demolishing 300 houses, he will lose not even 10,000 votes," Kapoor told the Hindu daily.

"But Banaras (Varanasi) is defined by its galis (narrow lanes), and by creating this corridor, he is robbing Banaras of its very identity."

The report added that residents have been offered compensation and relocationoptions but said that some residents feel it is not adequate reimbursement for losing homes in an area of prime real estate.

The $85,000 demolition project has also unearthed several ancient temples, statues, and historic buildings, prompting debate on how best to preserve these whilst constructing the corridor. “