Sunday, 29 June 2008

Mbari – South Eastern Nigeria

This selection of mbari images shows elements characteristic of these buildings in terms of their material construction and ideology. They were originally never repaired to reflect human existence, hence the neglect seen in one image here. Dualities are another essence of the mbari philosophy and can be seen very visibly in the image of the Earth god Ala and the Thunder god being rendered in a completely different style, reflecting very literally two different cultures through decoration and dress respectively. Night and day, dark and light, public and private elements also feature prominently in the literature on the concepts of mbari and the rituals involved with making the structure. As Cole (1988: 65) said ‘Mbari was and remains a showcase of values’. Cole, H.M (1988) in African Arts Volume XXI, 2 p.54-65 ‘The Survival and Impact of Igbo Mbari’.

My special thanks go to Skip Coles for allowing me to publish these images of his work and his support for the project. Coles, H.M (1982) “Mbari: Art and Life among the Owerri Igbo”. Bloomington, USA: Indiana University Press.