Patination in Traditional African Art

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Patination as used in this thesis refers to physical change on the surface of an object, which becomes different from the object’s original condition. These are changes which have taken place over a period of time and are due to factors including handling, libation poured on the object and other foreign matter accumulating during the use of the object. Traditional African art as used in this thesis refers mainly to wood sculpture. The main problem of the thesis is to consider patination in traditional African art as an aesthetic factor. That is to make people more aware of patination as an external aesthetic factor, which is the direct result of libation, together with other factors mentioned above. The main problem which is the aim of the thesis is dealt with in the first chapter which interweaves with the sub-problems set out in the following chapters. Chapter two treats the sparse historical documentation with reference to materials other than wood. Chapter three expands the views of the anthropologist who concentrates on whether the object has been used to understand how the Object was used, which is also a guide to its authenticity. This view is considered 1riside that of the collector. Chapter four expands on the aesthetic considerations of the connoisseur. The anthropologist could as well appreciate patination as an aesthetic factor, but his work as dealt with in chapter three is to focus on the more functional aspect. The anthropologist’s views as opposed to that of the connoisseur’s are not necessarily conflicting. The aim of this thesis maintains that the changes in the surface quality be considered as a prime factor of aesthetic appreciation and that greater attention should be directed to it.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Arts in African Art, 1987