This is the era in which objects first appear, such as female wooden sculptures depicting the rulers' desire for population, particularly of men (recall, entire regions of Central Africa were depopulated by then by centuries already of the slavery industry, taken to everywhere in the New World).
|A nkisi. Ritually prepared materials -- power packets -- would be secreted within the figure.|
|A mangaaka. Very few of these large nkisi have survived.|
|Named hippoi by the Greeks, because of the horse heads at stem and stern.|
After our session finished at noon, after the networking, and so on, we were given passes to the Met's galleries. El V and I had lunch in the museum restaurant, before going through the "Assyria to Iberia" galleries. As usual, I am
struck by the refinement of the Assyrian artists, particularly in the cylinder seals. Each time I look at these objects I am more impressed by the Assyrians than the last time. Their visual imagination expresses a spirituality that we can't comprehend emotionally, yet is deeply striking: the human-beast composite figures of
|Cylinder seal depicting a Mistress of Animals, surrounded by horned beasts.|
We spent a long time looking at a panel that showed cargo being taken off a Phoenician hippoi ship. Trade was much the focus of this exhibit. Just as with the coming Kongo exhibit -- many of the objects in that show are pieces sent to European princes (including the Medicis!) by the Mani-Kongo, who controlled the most extensive trading system on the continent, back in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.
It was an emotional day, from the sense of tragic sadness and desperation felt in those sculptures of women cradling and nurturing -- not infants as the western eye always interprets initially -- but grown men, just made small, in the vain hope of repopulating the land. While in the meantime, the women have been taken off to have their wombs forever repopulating the slave breeding and trading industry in the New World. Then this joy in the exquisite refinement and achievement of what artists could create so very long ago, in the millennium before the ACE.
|Not only is the detail exquisite -- in the round one can see each toe of the boy's foot -- it's also mysteriously, even tenderly, erotic. Note the placement of the lioness's paw around the boy's shoulders, holding his throat to her mouth ....|
This ivory was from the elephant herds living in what we now call Syria. They were hunted to extinction long before ACE for the sake of their tusks, so what goes round, comes around? We look at the ivory tusks from these elephants of the Middle East, all that survives of their DNA, and think again of the ornamental oliphants given to European princes by the Mani-Kongo, whose elephants too are nearly hunted to extinction for their ivory.
But what survives from a temple in the Phoenician port of Spal, which today we know as Seville, is gold. Gold has no dna ... nevermind . . . .
At that thought, our feet and backs couldn't take any more marble floors. We left to meet up with the people visiting NYC from North Carolina who wish to do some events around The American Slave Coast after publication. This includes the largest bookstore in the triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), historical black college radio, and so on and so forth, and hopefully a gig or two presenting at one of the academic institutions which will finance this jaunt. While we were meeting, we were observed for long minutes by a drone garbed in Christmas lights, through le Café's large windows facing the street . . . .
After that we stopped in at the Grad Center's Christmas party, came home to eat rice and vegetables and read.
Somehow . . . it felt like the Christmas season had started.