Not Primitive Art!kifwebwe "cubist" African mask

We think the term “primitive art” is a hangover from colonial times. Western supremacy, slavery and colonialism have shaped our thinking. From Conran’s “dark heart of Africa” to the concept of the “noble savage”; ours has been a biased view.

Ethnographic art equals diversity

The wide variety of African art is truly amazing. Sub-saharan Africa is several times larger than the whole of Europe. Our knowledg eof the subject is limited. After all, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that we actually started asking questions about where tribal art comes from. Only then did we start to take an interest in the context in which these great works of art were originally located. It is worth considering that when we regard an African mask or African art it is only once it has been removed from its true context. Our knowledge of its true meaning and origins are often limited.

Bias in Appreciating "Tribal" Artrendile African headrest

Cultural bias is factor to consider too. We tend to see things through the lens of western art and aesthetics. This, in spite of the fact that some of greatest 20th centuries works of western art were inspired by African artistry. While Gauguin took his influence from Tahiti, Picasso developed his style of Cubism while under the influence of African masks. Sadly he never knew the skilled artist who carved the wooden masks that inspired him. Original African art is the product of rich cultures and the diverse places people come from. Nomads opt for easy to transport items which are both decorative and easy to carry. The forest dwellers of West Africa tend to prefer carvings and African tribal masks. Whether you are a tribal art collector or an enthusiast. Or a student wishing to learn more about tribal art, we hope that you enjoy our site. Please let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.

"Wall Art" From AfricaAfrican Kuba Fabric

African art is a huge subject and sadly there is a lot of misinformation around. It’s a truly vast subject. That’s why we will never willingly misinform you about our products. We are talking about the material culture of civilisations that span a continent. Peaple search for "African wall art" when what they are really searching for is a piece of cultural histiory. Africa consists of many countries and a great number of distinct cultures. Some of these cultures’ history is lost in antiquity. Hence the true diversity of Africa is often overlooked. In Africa, art is part of everyday life. A mask would be worn for ceremonies. A statue might represent an ancestor the way a photograph album be used to remember our own loved ones. A carefully decorated musical instrument would be played at festivities. Stools would be reserved for a chief or those of high status. Carvings placed at shrines might be used to ward off evil. When traditional African art is displayed in a house in New York or London it loses much of its true meaning. Cultural importance becomes reduced to abstract western concepts of aesthetic.

African Art and The Cycle of Lifeafrican mask

Tribal art speaks of the cycle of life. Objects reflect the rite of passage from youth to adulthood. Others commemorate and remember. Masks are used to convey social values. Statues refer to myths and tales passed from one generation to the next. The very term “tribal art” has a slightly patronising sound to it. Like the concept “primitive art”. The term Tribal art implies a simplicity. The truth is that Tribal art is as complex or profound as anything found or created in the west. Tribal art has been emulated, collected and copied in the west for a long time now. It is not inferior art. Prices at action are breaking new records. Careful study of tribal art opens a world of complexity and nuance. African art often offers insights and lessons on value systems lost to our frenetic modern way of living. Africa’s traditional art is a connected form of art. Links are made between the the land and the people. Generations are informed and connected, joining past, present and future age groups into a seamless lineage of respect and history. African art serves as a storage vessel for collective memory. It is a window into the past.

African artworks are by their very nature imbued with meaning. Prestige, wealth, cultural identity, spiritual wealth and so much more is communicated by Africa’s art. We hope you like the African sculpture and wall art we have collected and offer for sale. We try to offer value for money. If you are not happy with your purchase you can return it for a full refund. We urge you to buy what you like. Please don’t go by descriptions or promises of age. We are often asked to value collections where people have bought for the wrong reasons. Because they were told something was old when it is not. Buy it because you love it and because it speaks to you.

Browse our range of tribal art for sale