A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Institute's collection of art from the broad geographical regions of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas has increased greatly since its first ancient American ceramics were acquired in the early 1920s.
The Institute's sub-Saharan African collection began in the early 1950s, with the 18th-century bronze leopard and carved ivory tusk from the Benin culture of Nigeria. Since then, masterpieces from early Africa, such as the Nok figure (about 450 B.C.) and the great Ife portrait head (about A.D. 1200—1400) have established the core of the collection, which also includes metalwork, ceramics and sculpture from central Africa.
Oceanic art represents the widely spread cultural groups of the Pacific Islands and Australia. The museum has three important sculptures from New Ireland and a good selection of works from New Guinea.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts houses more than 100,000 objects from diverse cultural traditions spanning 5,000 years of world history. The Institute is a comprehensive and encyclopedic fine arts museum serving the Twin Cities and the Upper Midwest and is recognized internationally as one of the great museums in America.
This wooden sculpture is one of the oldest known from Sub-Saharan Africa, and was created by an artist of the Djenne culture, an early and sophisticated civilization that existed in present-day Mali. It likely represents an ancestral clan founder, whose role as a ruler and hunter are indicated by his jewelry, weapons, and position on horseback. Horses played an important role in West African society, adding to the power and prestige of their owners because of their rarity. Also, a man physically and mentally strong enough to control a horse gained great respect in his community. The man's size is exaggerated in this depiction to illustrate his importance. (MIA collection)
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