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Creation Myths and the Visual Arts: An Ongoing Dialogue between Word and Image

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image of Religion and the Arts

Even though in most arts faculties the verbal and the material arts are usually studied separately, they are closely connected in mutually clarifying ways. The various contributions to this issue demonstrate convincingly how relevant it is to study verbal and visual artistic expressions of creation myths in combination. In practical terms, the first step is to describe the connections and functions of the specific material and verbal genres concerned. African oral myths about the origin of black and white people and wooden sculptures referred to as colons are a case in point. The function of the myth was to explain the origin of racial difference and to answer the question why white people were wealthier and more powerful than black people. The sculptures served to re-appropriate the power and prestige lost to the colonizer in new ways. The example illustrates how the two artistic genres had different functions and played complementary roles in people's dealing with Europe's colonial presence in Africa.

Affiliations: 1: Leiden University


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