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When is African Body-Art not African Body-Art?
on 13 November 2009
Don't we do a grave disservice to Africa's nation's tradition of tribal body painting, which used to have symbolic meaning for 'the tribe' with individualistic decoration pertinent to any one tribe's culture and history by purchasing or owning these wonderful glossy fibs that perpetrate and perpetuate lies.-
Don't we...condone anthropological untruths?
The commercial aspect is utterly apparent. 'Tribes' cannot be blamed, which, doubtless, are painting any old pattern representing absolutely nothing of significance toward their culture or history. A few coins may be exchanged between tribe and safari-tourists or, because a photo session is encouraged by gloating workaday photographers and publishers.
One suspects true African body patterning has been lost decades ago. Leni Riefenstahl, possibly, got in there in the nick of time just before the last millennium with her celebrated photo journalism of the fabulous Nuba.-
Who's to know?
Now, any so-called photo record these publications purport to archive are in fact insults to the studiousness of real anthropology.-
It is not surprising that inadequate text or explanation is lacking in many of these types of 'sad ethnic volumes' when the beautifully produced colour plates say little; are; a horrid, beguiling sham. Such publications will have, and continue, to facilitate the demise of true tribal body art. Or, are we witnessing a re-blossoming of Africa's pre-eminence in their tradition; even if; paid a penny or two to 'commercially progress the anthropological record'?
Will I or will I not buy or own this or similar publications. Oh! What a conundrum to decide to buy into a plush publishing dichotomy?
(See comments to similar publication re: "Ethiopia: Peoples of the Omo Valley")