Visual Art Paper 1 ,May/June 2011  
Questions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Main
General Comments

Question 5

Explain the concept of ancestral figures in West Africa.



Few candidates were attracted to this question and their scanty knowledge of West African art manifested more in their responses to this. Rather than stating the
meaning of the concept and its underlying beliefs, most candidates dwelt on Egyptian art; a tradition that is outside the scope of West African art history.  Others deliberately neglected the essence of the question and concentrated on explaining Benin, Ife and Nok art traditions. Consequently, some obtainable marks were lost.  

Some of the following are the points that candidates were expected to articulate:

            The concept of ancestral figures in West Africa

  • art is seen as a visible expression of the invisible and transcendental (mystical).
  • it plays a suitable function in various religious rites.
  • artworks are therefore created and imbued  with power through rituals, to perform exalted religious functions.
  • Artist  created works with the awareness that he was creating a temporary abode for the spirit.
  • images are created to house the spirit of the progenitor of the tribe who is believed should be afforded a worthy habitat in the form of sculpture.
  • the figures serve as symbols, an effigy and the seat of supernatural power.
  • although dead, the ancestor places his power at the disposal of the living, hence he is deified and worshipped.
  • Solicitation for fertility (land and human), bumper harvest and other tribal needs are addressed to the ancestral figure, believed to be the abode of the progenitor of the clan.
  • Its assistance may be invoked in all stages of agricultural activities.
  • some are placed upon graves, or family shrines where people go to make sacrifice and take counsel.











Powered by Sidmach Technologies(Nigeria) Limited .
Copyright © 2015 The West African Examinations Council. All rights reserved.