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Western Africa Culture

West African Culture Presentation
by

Natalie Offutt

on 26 May 2011

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Transcript of Western Africa Culture

WEST AFRICAN CULTURE Folktales Griots Genealogies Music Dance Art Oral and Written
Traditions Proverbs Sculpture Masks Textiles Everyday Objects Call and Response Instruments Drumming Rituals Celebrations educational For centuries, the beliefs, values, and knowledge of West Africans were passed down orally from one generation to another. In medieval times, written traditions became important as well. Genealogies are histories of people's ancestry. The Griots would educate their audiences with these historical accounts. A griot is a verbal artist of the Mande people. These poet-musicians tell stories, sing songs or praise, and recited poems. Before written histories, griots kept the past alive.

Every village had it's own griot. The griot memorized all important events that occured in the villiage: births, deaths, marriages, battles, hunts, and coronation of kings.

The griots also were trusted advisors to kings. Proverbs are important part of West African culture. Proverbs are popular sayings that speak to our culture. An example would be: "A good story is like a garden carried in the pocket". Another great proverb would be "Everytime an old man dies it as if a library has burnt down". Africa's oral tradition includes hundreds of folktales. West Africans used folktales to pass along their history and to teach young people morals and values. Many were brought to America by West Africans who were sold into slavery in the 1500's. Music serves many fuctions in West African society. It communicates ideas, values, and feelings. It celebrates historic events and important occasions in peoples lives. Call and response is a common style of music in West Africa. In call and response singing a leader plays or sings a short phrase, known as a call. Then a group of people, the chorus, answer by playing or singing a short phrase, the response. The leader and the chorus repeat this pattern over and over as they perform the song. The African tradition has influenced many American musical styles, including gospel, jazz, blues, rock and roll, and rap. Traditional musical instruments in West Africa include three that have been used by griots for centuries. Three instruments are balafon, ngoni, and the kora. Thank you for
your attention! Drums play an important role in West African culture. Drums are made of hollowed-out logs or pieces of wood. The drums are covered with animal skins. Dance is as much part of life as drumming and singing. Dances are for celebration, education, or to seek the help of spirits and to connect to dead ancestors. West African culture includes many forms of visual art. The traditional art of West Africa served a number of functions. Some art objects, like fabrics and baskets, satisfied everyday needs. Others, like masks and sculptures, were used in rituals and ceremonies, or to honor ancestors, spirits, or royalty. West Africans used religious sculptures to call upon the spirits to help them in every phase of life. They also use sculpture to honor their leaders. The Nok made terra-cotta sculptures of human figures. Terra-cotta is a baked clay often used to make pottery or sculptures. Wooden mask have been a part of West African life for centuries. Masks were worn during ceremonies, in performances, and in sacred rites. Like sculptures, they were worn to bring the spirits of gods and ancestors into the present. West Africans have a long tradition of making textiles that are both beautiful and symbolic. Three well-known types of West African textiles are stamped fabrics, story fabrics, and kente cloth. Some story fabrics are made by using a technique called applique. Applique is a technique in which shaped pieces of fabric are attached to a background fabric to form a design or picture. West African visual arts also include the design and decoration of everyday objects. Skilled artists turn practical objects into things of beauty. Presented by: Ms. Offutt
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