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  • Bobo - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    View all images in the media gallery Types of Art Masks fashioned from leaf fiber cloth and wood are usually worn with leaf and fiber costumes The major context is men s initiation History The Bobo have lived in the region for centuries with some estimates dating back to 800 A D It is generally believed that they moved into this area from the north One of the primary reasons for this thinking is that they speak a language considered to be part of the Mande family which originates to the north in Mali Throughout the history of the region other peoples like the Zara have also moved into the area influencing the Bobo and sometimes being either partially or wholly absorbed into Bobo agricultural society Economy Farming among the Bobo is of primary importance Agricultural activity is not merely a way of providing for subsistance among the Bobo it is the essential component of their day to day existence The major food crops are red sorghum pearl millet yams and maize They also cultivate cotton which is sold to textile mills in Koudougou The imposition of colonial rule and the construction of these mills led to the disintegration of the local cooperative labor systems which had served to bond the members of Bobo society together Political Systems The Bobo are an inherently decentralized people Each village is basically autonomous and is organized according to the relationship among individual patrilineages The concept of placing political power in the hands of an individual is foreign to the Bobo whose cosmologic views would be seriously questioned by the existence of such an order Religion The creator god of the Bobo is Wuro who is never physically represented and cannot be described in words Wuro is responsible for the ordering of all things

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Bobo+ (2016-02-13)
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  • Bushoong - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    as mnemonic devices to remember Kuba history and to transfer power from one king to the next Other royal regalia includes exquisitely carved drums drinking horns stools knives staffs and fly whisks among other things History Bushoong are part of the larger Kuba ethnic group and as such have a shared history While their ancestors migrated into their current location from opposite directions they have together carved out a unified kingdom that recognizes as the rulers of the land those descended from the 16th century Bushoong leader King Shyaam Bushoong migrated from the north and are closely related to the southern Mongo peoples Upon arrival in their current location they found Twa and Kete peoples both of whom have been absorbed into the larger Kuba Kingdom Economy The rivers which bound the Kuba territory provide fish which is normally consumed in the region where it is caught They also farm maize and cassava both of which were imported from the new world The Kuba weave beautiful raffia cloth which is embroidered by the women and traded to surrounding areas Political Systems The leader of the Kuba peoples is always Bushoong and rules from the Kuba capital Nsheng The Nyim king is assisted in his duties by over a hundred advisors who are representative of the people of the kingdom Individual villages each have a leader who must answer to the Nyim and is responsible for instituting his rulings The king s position of power is considered supreme as he is a direct descendant of the mythical unifier of the Kuba King Shyaam There have been twenty one successive rulers since Shyaam and the kingdom has been relatively stable throughout the 400 years of its history Religion The Kuba oral history tells of the creation of the world by Bumba who

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Bushoong (2016-02-13)
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  • Bwa - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    In the 19th century the Bamana empire declined only to be replaced by the Moslem Fulani empire in the north They also carried out incursions into Bwa territory destroying crops and villages stealing animals enslaving men and women and conscripting men into their armies In 1897 the French arrived on the scene only to use the Fulani as mercenaries in order to control the region In 1915 the Bwa revolted against the French demand for military recruits The French responded by destroying all the offending villages Economy The Bwa are primarily farmers Since the early colonial days the largest cash crop is cotton of which they often produce so much that they must purchase food for cash in distant markets Most of the field work is done by the men although women help out during planting and harvesting Other crops include grains such as millet rice sorghum yams and peanuts Women also gather fruits and plants from the nearby wilderness which are used in the concoction of certain medicines and to supplement the daily diet Political Systems The Bwa live in autonomous villages which do not recognize an individual political authority All decisions are made by a council of male elders of the local lineages External infringements on this system have been historically resisted While the independence of Bwa villages has proven an advantage in the face of local crises when the people have quickly organized and taken action almost immediately it has also prevented the Bwa from forming strong alliances when confronted by outside invaders Religion The Bwa believe that the world was created by a god named Difini or Dobweni who left the Earth when he was wounded by a woman pounding millet with her pestle abandoning humankind to his fate on Earth Dobweni sent his son Do

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Bwa (2016-02-13)
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  • Cameroon Grasslands - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    one another and share many historical and political similarities while retaining separate identities All members of this group originally came from an area to the north and migrated in various complex patterns throughout the last several centuries Fulani traders moving steadily southwards into Cameroon in the 17th century forced the southern drift of most of the current residents Many smaller groups combined while other factions split away as a result of pressure from the invading Fulani Economy People in the region played an important part in regional trade routes connecting with the seaport of Douala in the south and with Fulani and Hausa traders in the north All of the people in this area are historically farmers who grow maize yams and peanuts as staple crops They also raise some livestock including chickens and goats which play an important role in daily sustenance Women who are believed to make the soil more fruitful are responsible for the tasks of planting and harvesting the crops Men are responsible for clearing the fields for planting and practice some nominal hunting Specific economic enterprises are dictated by the specific microenvironments of individual ethnic groups Political Systems All of the peoples who make up the Cameroon Grasslands culture area pay allegiance to the Fon chief Each village is governed by a leader who is selected by his predecessor and who is usually the head of the dominant lineage within that community Each Fon is served by a council of elders who advise him on all important decisions and who also play an important role in the selection of the next Fon Most chiefs serve for a lifetime abdicating the throne or stool only when nearing death Complex age grade societies also help to structure the community The Fon also oversees these secret societies Religion

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Cameroon+Grasslands (2016-02-13)
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  • Chokwe - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    the court History Chokwe origin can perhaps be traced to the Mbundu and Mbuti Pygmies Between 1600 and 1850 they were under considerable influence from the Lunda states and were centrally located in Angola In the second half of the 19th century though considerable development of the trade routes between the Chokwe homelands and the Angolan coast led to increased trade of ivory and rubber Wealth acquired from this allowed the Chokwe kingdom to expand eventually overtaking the Lunda states that had held sway over them for so long Their success was short lived however The effects of overexpansion disease and colonialism resulted in the fragmentation of Chokwe power Economy The Chokwe grow manioc cassava yams and peanuts Tobacco and hemp are also grown for snuff and maize is grown for beer Domesticated livestock is also kep and includes sheep goats pigs and chickens Protein is added through hunting There is an exclusive association of big game hunters known as Yanga but everyone contributes to the capture of small game animals The farming and processing of agricultural products is done almost exclusively by women among the Chokwe Slash and burn techniques and crop rotation are practiced to conserve the land naturally Political Systems The Chokwe do not recognize a paramount leader but instead offer allegiance to local chiefs who inherit their positions from the maternal uncle Mwana nganga chiefs consult with a committee of elders and ritual specialists before making decisions Villages are divided into manageable sections which are governed by family headmen All members of Chokwe society are divided into two categories those who are descended from the founding matrilineal lines and those who are descended from former enslaved populations Religion The Chokwe recognize Kalunga the god of creation and supreme power and a series of nature and mahamba

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Chokwe (2016-02-13)
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  • Dan - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    of the 19th century as lacking any central governing power Social cohesion was fostered by a shared language and a preference for intermarriage Generally each village had a headman who had earned his position of advantage in the community through hard work in the fields and through luck as a hunter They usually surrounded themselves with young warriors for protection from invading neighbors and exchanged gifts with other chiefs in order to heighten their own prestige Out of this custom was born the basic tradition of tin among the Dan which was based on displaying one s success in order to build a good reputation and name Economy The tradition of tin is still an essential part of the Dan economy today Young people strive to make a name for themselves by lavishly spending at community feasts to demonstrate their wealth Although farming and hunting have been largely replaced by laboring in the diamond camps or working at the rubber plantations the establishment of a hierarchical social order is still based on the individual s ability to succeed Political Systems It has been only recently through the creation of go the leopard society that a unifying political organization has emerged among the Dan The secret political society centers around the powerful spirit go who is responsible for peacemaking Although the power of go seems to be increasing throughout Dan society individual villages still maintain a high degree of political independence and the economic power of the individual is still highly valued Religion The Dan world view holds that everything can be divided into two separate and clear categories The primary dichotomy is between village and bush in other words things that have been controlled by man and things that have not Crossing over the dividing line is dangerous business and

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Dan (2016-02-13)
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  • Diomande - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    describe Diomande society of the 19th century as lacking any central governing power Social cohesion was fostered by a shared language and a preference for intermarriage Generally each village had a headman who had earned his position of advantage in the community through hard work in the fields and luck as a hunter These headmen usually surrounded themselves with young warriors for protection from invading neighbors and exchanged gifts with other chiefs in order to heighten their own prestige Economy Young people strive to make a name for themselves by lavishly spending at community feasts to demonstrate their wealth Rice yams taro manioc maize and bananas are the primary crops grown Although farming and hunting have been largely replaced by laboring in the diamond camps or working at the rubber plantations the establishment of a hierarchical social order is still based on the individual s ability to succeed Political Systems Diomande political systems consisted largely of non centralized fragmentary political groups in which decisions are made on behalf of the community by councils of elder men Masking often served as a means of social control enforcing the rules established by the elders Diomande initiation is not tied to Poro societies as is the case of their many neighbors but masks do appear at initiation Performances also occur during funerals and for purposes of entertainment Although described primarily as entertainment such performances also contain social and political commentary that serve to demonstrate to the community the wisdom of the elders Religion The Diomande world view holds that everything can be divided into two separate and clear categories The primary dichotomy is between village and bush in other words things that have been controlled by man and things that have not Crossing over the dividing line is dangerous business and whenever it

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Diomande (2016-02-13)
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  • Djenné - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art
    through the 15th century The style is often referred to as the Djenné or Jenne style named after a city that rose to prominence in this area in approximately 500 A D and experienced great prosperity until the end of the 15th century Economy Susan and Roderick McIntosh have divided the occupation of ancient Djenné into four important phases During phase I ca 250 B C 50 A D occupants of the site seem to have lived in temporary shelters made of grass or brush to have smelted iron eaten fish and some domesticated cattle and to have made pottery with sand temper of the type associated with desert peoples to the north During Phase II ca 50 400 A D the people of ancient Djenné grew rice and lived in permanent adobe homes and the site increased in size During Phase III ca 400 900 A D many more homes were built and were occupied in some cases for centuries The McIntoshes excavated four inhumation burials and nine urn burials in a crowded urban cemetery that provides evidence of the growth of population and density It is in such burials that most of the figurative ceramics have been found Throughout these periods population growth was probably stimulated by trade in iron copper fish rice gold and salt between the desert and the Sahel McIntosh and McIntosh 1981 20 The city probably reached its greatest size late in Phase III early Phase IV By 1468 A D the site had been completely abandoned and was being garrisoned by troops of the Songhai conqueror Sonni Ali during the siege of the new city of Djenné McIntosh and McIntosh 1981 15 17 The McIntoshes have no evidence of the reasons for decline and abandonment but speculate that the site was the abandoned

    Original URL path: https://africa.uima.uiowa.edu/peoples/show/Djenn%C3%A9 (2016-02-13)
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