Chapter 3: Themes in African Art

Although the subject matter for African art varies considerably throughout time and geography, as well as according to traditional and contemporary approaches, certain themes do emerge, while others have been rare. Taking a thematic approach allows us to see how varied manifestations of a particular theme can be. We’ll sample the appearance of animals in African art, as well as depictions of the couple, motherhood, initiation, supernatural medicine, witchcraft, divination arts, art and death, and memorialization. Other themes certainly exist, but these are overarching topics that appear frequently.