Museum of Macedonia opens exhibition of Western African ritual objects

Genuine wood objects used by the people of West Africa in various rituals will be displayed at an exhibition entitled "Ghosts of Africa: Ritual Western African Art". The exhibition opens tomorrow in the Museum of Macedonia in Skopje.

Over 70 ritual masks, sculptures and fabrics featured in the exhibition are owned by the Museum of African Art in Belgrade, founded in 1977. Its items will be displayed in Macedonia for the first time in its four-decade existence.

The wood pieces, dating back to the mid-20th century, were used in various rituals, including funerals, initiations, rites dedicated to the cults of fertility, ancestry, etc. They were used by Western African nations, namely Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast and Liberia. The sculptures are mostly anthropomorphous and they depict ancestors, deceased members of the community, spirits of nature, etc.

"Our wish was to present sculptural art, which is very characteristic for the region of Western Africa. Ritual items in a very complex way depict cultural heritage, the values and views of these communities that had lived in a traditional framework of life until modernization in the mid-20th century," Aleksandra Prodanovic-Bojovic, curator at the Museum of African Art, told a news conference on Tuesday.

The Museum of African Art in Belgrade was established from the private collection of Croatian diplomat in service of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Zdravko Pecar. It was a result of his long stay as Ambassador to Africa. The collection contains many rare and valuable pieces from the regions in which he travelled.

Ahead of the opening, an extensive catalog has been printed in three languages (Macedonian, Serbian and English), by the Skopje Jazz Festival. The institution serves as a partner to the Museum of Macedonia in organizing the exhibition.

The exhibit will run until Dec. 17.


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