Africa is a large continent rich in designs, symbols, and stories. The artwork below comes from a wide range of inspiration.
This giraffe is one of my first drawings. The sun replicates a mask used by the Bwa of Burkino Faso. Click here for a great website with more about the masks and headdresses created across Africa.
The patterns used in the rhino and tree are from mudcloth. To make mudcloth, the men first weave the cloth, then the women paint the designs, each of which is rich in meaning. For more on mudcloth, click here.
The weaving in Zulu baskets is so tight you can store liquids in them! Traditional patterns are not only decorative, they also tell stories. I don’t usually link to commercial websites, but I’m making an exception because the profits from this one go directly to the weavers, and it has a wealth of information about basket weaving and the Zulu people.
Kente cloth is hand-woven on looms in strips 3-5 inches wide. The strips are then sewn together and used for clothing. Each color and pattern has a particular meaning. You can read more about Kente cloth here.
Wood carving has a long history in Africa. Human masks and figurines, and animal figures exhibit wonderful anatomical features and design techniques. Click here to learn more about African sculpture, and the range of African art from petroglyphs to weaving.
Mosaic Tile Inspired
In Africa, Roman mosaic tile art was influenced by the African environment. Here is a fun link to an archeological dig in Thugga, Tunisia, that shows more mosaic tile art.
These activity pages are based on Zulu beadwork. Combinations of dark and light beads convey messages, just as dark and light convey messages in Zulu basket weaving.
Click on this image to download 2 activity pages that explore the meanings of Zulu symbols:
Will you share with me the bead designs you make? You can send copies to: email@example.com.