Sudanese art is an extreme and varied one.

Sudanese art is representative of the art and culture of nearly 600 tribes that inhabit the great continent, and is as extreme and varied as its geography of lush tropical forests to sandy deserts.

Throughout the colorful African history, many empires have risen and fallen. These empires and other smaller ethnic groups have caused this type of art to flourish.

Though the earliest known civilization in this part of Africa was Ghana, it was the empire of Mali that contributed more to the art of the Sudan. The legendary magician, Sundjata, who had introduced cultivation and weaving of cotton into the region, historically founded the empire. An empire of vast territorial dominance, it comprises of smaller cultures that illustrate a distinct form of art.

The Bambara people are known for their carved antelope headdresses known as the Chi Wara. This type of art is made out of wood, crafted into an abstracted antelope form with its horns, and is adorned with twine and metal. The figure symbolizes the mythical creature, who is half antelope and half man, and who taught the Bambara people how to till the soil. Its ceremonial purposes range from asking the gods to bless the land for cultivation, celebrate bountiful harvest to investment of power in a king.

Another type of Sudanese art that proved the excellent skills of the cultures within the important cities that took form and developed during the Mali Empire are the handsome terracotta sculptures. The ancient sculptures found in the Djenne region are commonly human forms with a distinct posture indicating a sense of calm, humility and reverence. Among the most famous is the equestrian figure, which is said to be an ancestor riding a horse that is an icon of power.

Another dominant ancient kingdom that is considered the largest in African History is the Songhay. Controlling about several thousand cultures, its existence brought forth a plethora of art.

The Dogon people are known for their colorful culture and methodology that brought forth beautiful pieces of Sudanese art. Conceptualized form their myths as well as from the animal and human world, the Dogon makes use of over 70 types of masks. The “Mother of Masks, unlike every African mass, is not worn but serves as a central altar where performances and sacrifices are offered. Towering over 14 feet, the mask represents a certain Dogon generation. This changing of masks is celebrated through an elaborate masquerade known as the Dama. The time of the Dama means preparation and renewal of Sudanese art objects such as costumes, musical instruments and masks.


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