Published On: Sat, Jun 28th, 2014

A Quick Visit to the National Museum of African Art

Fittingly, we took a break to escape the sun from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival by visiting the National Museum of African Art.



Nomoli head by a Sopi artist from Sierre Leone
Little is known about the origin of these centuries-old figures and heads found in the ground by farmers and diamond diggers in parts of Sierra Leone, Liberia and southern Guinea. This head is a typical example of the coastal style with its rounded forms, protuberant eyes, and flaring nostrils. When Mende farmers found nomoli carvings, they kept them near the fields, believing them to house spirits that could protect and increase the harvest.


Deangle Mask by a Dan artist from either Liberia or Cote d’Ivoire
Masks are the most important art form of the Dan peoples, who straddle the border between Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. Every mask embodies a certain forest spirit or the spirit of a particular household, and each mask type is used on specific social occasions for entertainment, moral education, social control, or political and judicial matters. This mask shows the idealized human face, while others combine human and animal qualities.

And no matter how many times you tell a kid to not play in the water, it’s always just too irresistible.


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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.

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