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The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 12, The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 12, The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, introductions by Douglas Newton, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra
1989
160 pages
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The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas presents the art of three large areas of the world where vital cultural traditions have flourished for centuries—indeed for millennia—separate from the artistic traditions of the West. The art of these areas is thus highly individual, formed by dynamic, autochthonous societies and informed by their own valued heritage and traditions. Today, it is an art unfamiliar to many Western viewers even though the last hundred years have seen an explosion of interest in these regions. Researchers, artists, travelers, merchants, and many others have greatly expanded our awareness of the peoples and cultures of these vast and distant places.

Included in this volume is a broad selection of the arts of these areas now housed in the Metropolitan Museum's Michael C. Rockefeller Wing. From the Pacific appear the extraordinary memorial poles made by the Asmat peoples of Irian Jaya in western New Guinea, and the commanding works of the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea. Other objects range from a New Ireland funerary carving to a Maori feather box from New Zealand, and important male figures from the Gambier and Easter islands in Polynesia. The African sculptures illustrated in this volume come from the forest and savanna areas south of the Sahara Desert. A compelling thirteenth-century terracotta figure from the ancient city of Jenne is the earliest African work in the collection. Numerous royal sculptures in bronze and ivory—including a magnificent sixteenth-century ivory mask—document the five-hundred-year history of art in the southern Nigerian kingdom of Benin. Wood figures and masks illustrate the diversity of styles in African art—from the stark geometry of the Dogon seated couple and the subtle abstraction of the great Fang head, to the spiritual presence of the Kongo power figures and the lush detail and expressive sensitivity of the famous Luba "Buli Master" stool.

Precolumbian America is represented by works spanning a period of about twenty-five hundred years. The earliest objects here are ceramic and jade sculpture of the Olmec peoples of Mexico. A unique Maya sculpture in wood of a seated figure—the only known three-dimensional Maya wood object to have survived the ravages of a tropical rain-forest environment&mdsah;and one of the gems of the collection is also here. A rich selection of Precolumbian gold objects from Central America, Colombia, and Peru document this strong area of the Museum's holdings. And Peru, whose dry coastal sands have preserved fragile, otherwise easily perishable works, is further represented by such pieces as the great hangings of brilliant blue-and-yellow parrot feathers.

Met Art in Publication

Zoomorphic Figure, Stone, pigment, Mendi region
Mendi region
ca. 1500 BCE– ?1600 CE
Figure, Vesicular basalt, Hawai'i
Hawai'i
9th–11th century (?)
Bis Pole, Jiem, Wood, paint, fiber, Asmat people
ca. 1960
Bis Pole, Jewer, Wood, paint, fiber, Asmat people
ca. 1960
Bis Pole, Fanipdas  Asmat, Wood, paint, fiber, Asmat people
ca. 1960
Figure (Gra or Garra), Wood, paint, Bahinemo people
Bahinemo people
late 19th–early 20th century
Figure, Wood, paint, Kopar or Angoram people
Kopar or Angoram people
late 19th–early 20th century
Ancestor Figure (Konumb or Atei), Wood, paint, Kopar or Angoram people
Kopar or Angoram people
19th century
House-post Figure, Wood, paint, fiber, Kambot people
Kambot people
19th century
Male Figure, Wood, paint, Angoram, Moim (?)
Angoram, Moim (?)
late 19th–early 20th century
Mask, Wood, paint, fiber, Biwat people
Biwat people
late 19th–early 20th century
Mask (Mai), Wood, paint, fish vertebrae, Nyaula Iatmul people
Nyaula Iatmul people
late 19th–early 20th century
Debating Stool (Kawa Rigit), Wood, clay, cowrie shells, paint, Western Iatmul
Western Iatmul
19th–early 20th century
Ceremonial Fence Element, Wood, paint, shell, Iatmul people
Iatmul people
late 19th–early 20th century
Ancestor Figure, Wood, paint, fiber, ferrous metal, Sawos people
Sawos people
19th century or earlier
Mask, Wood, resin, paint, Sawos people
Sawos people
19th–early 20th century
Head for Yam ceremony (Yena), Wood, paint, Yessan-Mayo people
Yessan-Mayo people
19th–early 20th century
Head for Yam ceremony (Yena), Ceramic, paint, Kwoma people
Kwoma people
19th–early 20th century
Mask (Buk, Krar, or Kara), Turtle shell, wood, cassowary feathers, fiber, resin, shell, paint, Torres Strait Islander
Torres Strait Islander
mid to late 19th century
Spirit Board (Gope), Wood, paint, Wapo
Wapo
late 19th–early 20th century
Showing 20 of 124

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———, eds. 1987b. The Islamic World. New York: The Museum.