It refers to the system of beliefs that tries to explain the universe and its components. It provides a description to the origin, evolution and eventual fate of the universe (Campion 1). In the modern society, Cosmology is the scientific study of the universe through astronomy and mathematics.
It refers to the way Africans view, belief and contemplates about their universe. Precisely, it entails African’s search for the explanation of the meaning of life and the relationship between humans and the universe. It is mainly based on the religious beliefs and practices.
African use their artworks such as sculptures to reflect various traditions and beliefs. The African cosmology provides harmony to the humanity and the environment by integrating African art and individuals into a larger structure that entails clan, family, community and tribal identity. The sculptures portray a complex cultural tradition whereby Africans try to understand and appreciate life through artworks. Similarly, cosmology has influenced African art production through rituals and ceremonies. African arts involve performance, ritual objects, costumes, and audience. Therefore, most artworks are used to illustrate myths and spiritual beings. Africans believed that natural phenomena were responsible for their daily need, and that is why they used their artwork to perform rituals and ceremony. Also, African artworks symbolized their ancestors. Ancestors played a significant role in African cosmology since they offed pieces of advice and granted them with good fortunes. Therefore, the ancestor cults were designed because they believed it acts as intermediaries between Supreme Being and man. Their art production was much related to the religion beliefs and practices.
First, the Dogon people are prolific African artists whose artworks portray religious characters. Their cosmology enables them to concentrate on mythical beings such as the ancestors, mythical animals, and atavistic blacksmith (“African Art” n.p). The Dogon religious life is regulated by the Dogon creation myth and the Sigi festival held periodically. The Dogon Grand Masks are sacred and regarded as a double of the mythical ancestor since they reflect special signs and symbols.
Second, the cosmological thoughts of the Bangwa, a Bamileke people found in Cameroon are based on twinness and androgyny. In this culture, twins and their parents are reversed. The twin births are regarded as perfect births that represent primordial and androgynous world while the dual births were the rule (“African Art” n.p). In a situation when a woman gives birth to twins, sculptures will be carved in honor of the twins. Therefore, the twin parents give inspirations to Bangwa sculptures. The sculptures show women and men carrying twins. The other sculptures that are known are those of dancing figures whereby they carry bamboo trumpet and rattles. Third, the Yoruba people concentrate on religious art. They are prolific African carvers who are devoted to making cults of their gods. Besides, for ritual performances, they use masks and carved figures to portray basic myths. Moreover, their cosmology has influenced them to give twins special attention. In a case when both or one of the twins dies, the Yoruba people have the tradition of making images of them.
“African Art.” : History, Characteristics. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/ancient-art/african.htm>.
Campion, Nicholas. Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions. New York: New York University Press, 2012. Print.
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