Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Metropolitan Museum of Art Curator Alisa LaGamma on 7 Extraordinary Treasures That Define Western Sahel Cultures

By Katie White

Installation view of "Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara." © The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2020, photography by Anna-Marie Kellen.
At the dawn of the first millennium, bustling trade routes crisscrossed the region known as the Western Sahel, a vast swath of land that inches up to just below the Sahara Desert and encompasses what is today Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Four great empires emerged and thrived in this dynamic region over the centuries—Ghana (300–1200), Mali (1230–1600), Songhay (1464–1591), and Segu (1640–1861)—forever imparting it with an incredible material culture. Now, that legacy of the region’s transformative impact on visual arts is being examined in “Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara,” currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. [More]
Megalith Kaolack region, Senegal (8th–9th century). Lateritic conglomerate. Collection of Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal Photo credit: Antoine Tempeì.