The cotton made wall-hanging textile piece was made in the late 20th century in Benin. It contained fish, human beings, birds, plants (trees, pineapple), sailing ships, and wild animals such as the lion (Artful Animals 1). This textile piece carried the story of power synonymous with the Dahomey kings. This piece artfully depicts coolness in African art by revealing how status, conquer and power defined African leaders. The images on the textile carried many proverbial sayings that defined the people, especially leaders, call to power and victory. Coolness was found in a deep understanding of self and the resolve to stand out for the right.
The Crest mask is a skin-covered mask composed of wood, plant fiber, animal skin, and dye. This mask, which is popular in Nigeria and the western region of Cameroon, depicts the people’s culture and beliefs regarding the dead and animal spirit. The mask shows how the people connected with the spirits. It is also synonymous with the women’s hairstyle done before marriage to signify an end to their seclusion (Owczarek 185). This art piece shows the coolness of holding on to a people’s culture and believing in its power over their lives.
The coolness of Madagascar’s culture is shown in the Funerary Sculpture, which was made in the early to the mid-20th century. The sculpture depicts a strong man clenching a spear and casting an authoritative gaze (Jenke 7). This sculpture demonstrates the values treasured by the people; authority, courage, and strength. Men were expected to be warriors walking with the strength and bravery that defined the African cool. It reminded the people that their coolness rests in status, power, and authority.
“Artful Animals: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution,” Washington, D.C., 2009, 2010. Web.
“Jenke, Veronika: Explore! African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection”. Exhibition booklet. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, 2007, pp. 7-8, 20. Web.
Owczarek, Nina. “Skin-Covered Masks from the Cross River Region of Nigeria and Cameroon at the National Museum of African Art: A Technical Study.” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, vol. 53, no. 3, 2014, pp. 185. Web.