Asen, Ancestors, and Vodun
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Asen, Ancestors, and Vodun : Tracing Change in African Art

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Description

Asen, metal sculptures of southern Benin, West Africa, are created to honor the dead and are meant to encourage interaction between visible and spiritual worlds in ancestral rites associated with the belief system known as vodun. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in the former Kingdom of Dahomey, Bay traces more than 150 years of transformations in the manufacture and symbolic meanings of asen against the backdrop of a slave-raiding monarchy, domination by French colonialism, and postcolonial political and social change. Bay expertly reads evidence of the area's turbulent history through analysis of asen motifs as she describes the diverse influences affecting the process of asen production from the point of their probable invention to their current decline in use. Paradoxically, asen represent a sacred African art form, yet are created using European materials and technologies and are embellished with figures drawn from tourist production. Bay\u2019s meticulously researched artistic and historical study is a fascinating exploration of creativity and change within Benin\u2019s culture.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 160.02 x 231.14 x 22.86mm | 453.59g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 83
  • 0252032551
  • 9780252032554
  • 2,016,153

Review quote

"Edna Bay paints a dense landscape of Dahomey during the precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial period through the lens of the asen . . . . In all, this valuable asen study offers a comprehensive account of the shifts in political, socioeconomic, and religious thought in Ouidah and beyond over 150 years."--International Journal of African Historical Studies "In this nuanced extended essay, Bay demonstrates the social processes through which an object type can both reflect and structure devotional practice embedded within political economy, changing over time. . . . Recommended."--Choiceshow more

About Edna G. Bay

Edna Bay is an associate professor in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts at Emory University and the author of Wives of the Leopard: Gender, Politics, and Culture in the Kingdom of Dahomey and other works.show more

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