The QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York


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Ancestors In Search of Descendants: Stone Effigies of the Ancient Sapi
Frederick John Lamp
QCC Art Gallery Press, 2018


Among the great mysteries of Africa’s distant past, small carved stone figures often found by chance by the local farmers in Sierra Leone and Guinea, West Africa, have intrigued observers for more than a century. Who made them? For what purpose? Who do the human figures represent? When were they made? The local people who find them under the ground, usually in the course of digging gardens, have no idea of their origin, attributing them to mythical people who preceded their own ancestors. The farmers usually create small shrines to house these discovered sculptures in order to make use of their mystical power. In this book, the author has analyzed thousands of these stone figures and the data on their discovery and collection to determine a geography of their distribution and to speculate on their dating that greatly expands the limits previously assumed. He has also investigated the earliest written sources as well as the ethnology on this area for clues to how the figures might have functioned in ritual, what ancient cultural group was responsible for carving them, what kinds of people they represent, how they can give us information about the societies before written history, and who might be the modern descendants of this rich ancient culture.



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