The Purpose Of Sexuality In African Carvings

1849 words - 7 pages

The Purpose of Sexuality in African Carvings

Unlike sexuality in western carvings where sexual orientation goes beyond heterosexuality, in African art sexuality was limited to heterosexuality. A critical analysis of African carvings demonstrate that apart from expressing the society’s perception of sexuality, deities were also assigned sex in most instances incorporating both male and female organs. This does not imply that sexuality in African art has also experienced the sexuality debates like western art. Intersex carvings are an important observation in African art, and this demonstrates the role played by the supernatural in African beliefs as pertaining sexuality. Sexuality in African carvings demonstrates the spirituality of sex and the fact that sex is believed to be of significant importance in worship.
Sex transcends the mere act of copulation, but is used to indicate that there is a deep connection between sex, worship, and African traditional beliefs. In essence, sexuality in African carvings is used more for the purpose of deification rather than to demonstrate human eroticism. Sex was considered sacred among most African traditional communities, and to talk about sex let alone incorporate sex in carvings was considered a taboo (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 79). It was only when such carvings were intended to glory some deity that sex was freely used in carvings in African communities. It is for this reason that most carvings that depicted sexuality were exaggerated in terms of the size. This was to create a distinction between the sexuality of ordinary people and the sexuality of the supernatural (Marshall Cavendish Corporation 79). The paper will look at how sexuality was used in African carvings to bring into perspective the role of the supernatural in human life among African traditional communities.
Most African traditional religions believed in the existence of a spiritual world parallel to the material world. African carvings served the purpose of creating a link between the spirit and the material world. Apart from multiple deities that were worshipped among various African communities, there were also spirits that acted as mediators between human beings and the gods. This implied that in most instances people prayed through spirits rather than praying directly to god or gods. For instance, Among the Baoule in Ivory Coast, the concept of spirit spouses is evident and elaborate due the practice of the Baoule of having carvings of spirit spouses. Spirit spouses play an important role in the live of couples because they are thought to either bring good luck or misfortune. The carvings of spirit spouses are granted the most private place in the bedroom away from the sight of outsiders. In fact, it is a taboo for an outsider to view the spirit spouse of a person. Blolo bian is the name given to spirit husband of woman. Although the women will still have an earthly husband, it is imperative that she does not forget her...

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