The Art of the Maasai: 300 Newly Discovered Objects and Works of Art
This book presents for the first time 300 extraordinary ceremonial artifacts - discovered by Gillies Turle and never before seen outside the villages to which they belong - that were created over many generations by members of the Maasai tribe of Kenya. What makes their discovery particularly exciting is that high art has been found in a part of the world in which, until now, it was believed no art had ever been created.
In his text, Turle talks about the significance of these objects - symbols of Maasai spiritual life used by the tribe's leader, the laibon, in ceremonies of healing, marriage, circumcision, admission into elderhood, and other crucial human occasions. We see a sculpted hippopotamus tooth, mortars made from elephants' pelvic bone sockets, ivory clubs, and carved rhinoceros horns, especially honored for the power of the great beasts themselves and for the courage of the men who captured them...
Turle gives us, as well, the feeling and the rhythm of the Kenya he has come to know, from the Ngong Hills and the Great Rift Valley to the Magadi Flats and the Aberdare Range. During the ten years of his friendship with the Maasai, they revealed to him their past and the hidden heart of their world. He describes their ceremonies and rituals, and the ways in which they have retained their own culture. He tells how they shielded themselves from the outside world until, in recent years, the Kenyan government outlawed many of their customs and seized their open tribal plains, so that now they must struggle to maintain space for themselves and for the cattle that are their most precious possessions.
The ceremonial objects brought together here are extraordinary, and Peter Beard's photographs of them are in themselves works of art. This is a book whose publication is an event in the worlds of art and African culture.
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'It is a richly colored contrivance ....." Please see the review of this book in the April 94 issue of African Arts Magazine. The book is important only for the study of poor quality fakery.
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No preview available - 1997