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AP Art History Semester One

Key Concepts:

Terms in this set (144)

- Benin, Nigeria. 18th century C.E. Brass.
- Benin, Nigeria. ca. 1550 C.E. Ivory, iron and copper.
- Benin, Nigeria. ca. 1550-1650 C.E. Brass.
- The Commemorative head of a king (Oba) is not a portrait of a particular king, but an expression of the idea of kingship that displays the wealth and status of kings. The headdresses and necklaces in the Commemorative head of a king (Oba) represent pieces carved from coral, a symbol of power and authority, and are still used in Benin royal dress today.
- The Waist pendant representing a Queen Mother (Iyoba ) would have hung at the oba's hip or possibly around his neck. The iyoba was the Queen Mother or mother of the oba. It is possible that this mask represents Idia, the mother of Esigie (ruled 1504-1550 C.E.) The carved beads of the necklace that surround the mask alternate heads of Portuguese soldiers with mudfish. The Portuguese can be identified by the shapes of their heads surmounted by helmets, with beards and flowing hair, and are significant because they, along with his mother Idia, helped Esigie expand his kingdom. Mudfish were the emblem of the oba and symbols of Olokun, a deity known as the Lord of the Great Waters. The oba was the mediator between the human world and the realm of Olokun.
- Brass plaques like Wall plaque, from Oba's Palace were created as decorations for the royal palace at Benin. They hung from walls and pillars and portrayed scenes of life at court, including images of the oba, Portuguese soldiers, and various court functionaries. The low relief plaques include details of costumes, weapons, personal ornaments, and floral patterns. The warrior chief wears a necklace of leopard's teeth and carved coral collar and cap. A spear is in the oba's left hand; he raises a sword with his right hand. A leopard mask hangs at his left hip. The leopard, as "king of the bush," is a symbol of Benin kingship. The plaque is organized in a hierarchal order with the warrior chief larger in size and in the center of the composition and flanked by two warriors holding shields and spears and two smaller figures representing court attendants. The scene shows a ceremony in which chiefs declare their allegiance to the oba by brandishing a sword in the air
- Great Mosque of Djenné. Mali. Founded c. 1200 C.E.; rebuilt 1906-1907. Adobe.
- This reconstruction replicated the style of the original mosque floor plan and is currently the largest mud-brick building in the world. The center tower on the eastern façade facing the marketplace contains the mihrab.
- A finial crowning each tower is topped with an ostrich egg, a symbol of fertility and purity. This individualization, although not a typical element in an Islamic mosque, is consistent with the aniconism of the Muslim faith.

The engaged columns along each façade operate as buttresses and support the wall. These columns are typical of West African mosque architecture. Their rhythmic verticality carries the eye upward and creates an effect of grandeur.

The wooden beams projecting from the walls are called torons. Torons provide permanent supports for scaffolding needed as the adobe walls of the mosque must be re-plastered each year as part of an annual festival. Other mosques in Africa, including the Larabanga Mosque in Ghana, are built according to a similar plan and technique and provide evidence of the Islamic influence in Africa.

In comparison to other sacred spaces, the Great Mosque at Djenné fulfills its function while demonstrating the uniqueness of the Djenné culture. The adobe brick structure utilizes building techniques that are traditionally used in the culture, but the floor plan indicates the mosque's designation as an Islamic place of worship. It uses traditional Muslim elements but presents them in its distinctive way. Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan also utilized building techniques unique to the Mexica culture while designating the space as sacred and a place of worship.