Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara

Various authors
304 pages
277 illustrations
View More Publication Info

This groundbreaking volume examines the extraordinary artistic and cultural traditions of the African region known as the western Sahel, a vast area on the southern edge of the Sahara desert that includes present-day Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, and Niger. This is the first book to present a comprehensive overview of the diverse cultural achievements and traditions of the region, spanning more than 1,300 years from the pre-Islamic period through the nineteenth century. It features some of the earliest extant art from sub-Saharan Africa as well as such iconic works as sculptures by the Dogon and Bamana peoples of Mali. Essays by leading international scholars discuss the art, architecture, archaeology, literature, philosophy, religion, and history of the Sahel, exploring the unique cultural landscape in which these ancient communities flourished. Richly illustrated and brilliantly argued, Sahel brings to life the enduring forms of expression created by the peoples who lived in this diverse crossroads of the world.

Met Art in Publication

West Africa (Senegal) Dakar—Native griot with his guitar [Afrique Occidentale (Sénégal) Dakar—Griot indigène avec sa guitare], Louis Hostalier (Senegal)  French, Postcard format photomechanical reproduction published by Metharam Bros. et Cie. Dakar
Louis Hostalier (Senegal)
ca. 1900
In Nioro (Sudan)—Wives and son of Wolof trader [A Nioro (Soudan)—Femmes et Fils de Marchand Ouolofes], Louis Hostalier (Senegal)  French, Postcard format photomechanical reproduction
Louis Hostalier (Senegal)
ca. 1900–1910
Bala, Wood, gourd, hide, membrane, Malinke
19th century
Pendant: Equestrian, Copper alloy, Dogon or Bozo peoples
19th century
Staff: Seated Male Figure, Copper alloy, iron, Dogon or Bozo peoples
16th–17th century
Figure Group, Wood, Soninke or Dogon peoples
16th–19th century
Female Figure with Raised Arm, Wood (Ficus or Moraceae), organic materials, Tellem civilization (?)
15th–17th century
Figure: Equestrian, Wood, Dogon peoples
16th–18th century
Seated Figure (Dyongou Serou), Wood, sacrificial materials, Dogon peoples
16th–early 20th century


View Citations

———. 2020. Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara [Exhibition, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, January 30 - May 10, 2020]. New York New Haven (Conn.) London: the Metropolitan museum of art distributed by Yale university press.