Anthropology: the yoruba culture in museums

Museums and the Appreciation of Art

Museums across the United States of America appreciate works of art. Each of these museums have a unique set of works they display and in their own unique way. They do not only appreciate American art but also those of different origin from around the world, and they provide their guests with basic information on them. Out of the various pieces of art they have to offer, some of them include African art. The Museums also convey how ethnocentric some of these art can be, and they also convey basic concepts the ethnics try to convey through their art. The Yoruba tribe, for example, emphasize the importance of kings and gods through their art. Furthermore, there is the showcase of concepts such as religion, music, color and honoring of ancestors through the different art substances the Yoruba are known for. Therefore, from this, the concept that African art is ethnocentric is visibly provided in the reading.

The Connection Between Yoruba Art and Religion

Yoruba art is also tied to their religion. Mullen explains that this is important for the people and that they worship several different gods known as Orisas. Art is tied to religion because different families and towns can only develop art based on the gods they worship. Additionally, another way through which Yoruba art is directly tied to religion is through the understanding of Ase. This is "the life force given to everything" (Mullen) and it can only mean that it is deeply incorporated into art. The latter would not exist without Ase. This basically means that Ase creates an existence for everything within the Yoruba culture. As such, it is important for the Yoruba people not only to worship their gods through art but also to incorporate Ase as an important part of their religion. It can thus be said that art for the Yoruba people is tied to their religion given these two examples.

The Significance of Twins in Yoruba Art and Culture

Apart from religion, twins are also very important to the Yoruba population. This population holds the highest number of twin births and twins they are interpreted as a symbol of great fortune (Mullen). However, if one of the twins dies, art is used to help keep his or her soul alive. This is achieved by having the mother make a memorial figure for the dead twin where the soul is transferred. This figure will be kept at home. The mother caree for it by providing food, weekly prayers and most importantly performing elaborate rituals on every birthday (Mullen). This goes to show that art allows the mother and the entire family to be able to keep the existence of the dead twin not only in their memory but also as a physical presence in their homes. Perhaps the reason for going through this is to get rid of misfortunes associated with the death of the twin. By transferring her or his soul into the memorial figure, it can be considered that he or she is still alive and the twins remain as two and not one.

The Importance of Wood Carving in Yoruba Art

From the above, it is true that art is important for this population thus the reason it exists in diverse forms. Specifically, the most important form of art in the Yoruba culture is wood carving. According to Mullen (2004), men take this task and the reason why it is so important is that it is the most common way to develop sacred objects and divination trays. Both hold great importance when it comes to religion for the Yoruba. Furthermore, it is a job that appears to require great skills, experience, and patience given the kind of objects that are carved out of the wood. Another reason as to why this is the most important form of art for the Yoruba is because most of the artistic products are developed from wood substances.

The Links Between Yoruba Art and the Economy

Lastly, the Yoruba art is linked to their economy in several ways. The first link is that art is a source of employment for both men and women. As explained from the reading, women or men can do only specific forms of art as well as there are also those that they both can do. Furthermore, there is the link of creating objects that are useful in different sectors of the economy. These tools can be interpreted to help other aspects of the economy to grow thus contributing to the general well being of the entire economy. For instance, it is through art that tools for farming are developed. There is also the link of creating artistic value. Most of the products made through art will be sold for economic benefits. From the pottery to the wood carvings, the items are not only bought by the Yoruba but also by neighboring communities an even people from other countries or locations. For instance, Mullen explains that communities that do not have access to clay often buy pottery from the Yoruba people.

Work Cited

Mullen, Nicole. "Yoruba Art and Culture." Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, 2004.

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