Aspects of these archaeological pieces are clearly reflected in artworks from ten centuries later. Emphasis is placed on the several regional styles of figural sculpture, some larger than life-size, and then even more numerous styles and types of masks from more than ten regions. These are not simply considered as forms, but also as intensely meaningful instruments in the religious, social and political lives of the people. The settings and performance contexts of the arts will be explored, along with their places in the aesthetic system and worldview. The roles of artists and patrons will also be looked at. The book will examine arts associated with individuals, families and entire communities: personal decoration, household objects, those associated with divination, architectural forms, title regalia, cult sculpture, personal and public shrines, and a generous sampling of the thousands of masks that are perhaps the quintessential forms of Igbo art. The book will close with analysis of change, competition and historical aggrandizement in the arts over the past one hundred years.
Herbert M. Cole taught African art history at the University of California for 35 years and is now professor emeritus. He has written, or edited nine books and more than 60 articles on African art and curated many exhibitions. In 2001 he was honoured with a Leadership Award for lifetime achievement by the Arts Council for the African Studies Association, the international professional organisation for those concerned with the Arts of Africa.