The Akwanshi

The Akwanshi
The Akwanshi
Anonim

The Akwanshi are approximately three hundred carved stones that were found at some forty different sites in a region between Nigeria and Cameroon, specifically in the area of ​​the Cross River where the Ekoy, also called Ejagham, have historically inhabited. Today that ethnic group no longer exists, and that space is occupied by several tribes that live in scattered villages and sometimes in conflict with each other and speak different dialects. But nevertheless they have cultural traits in common, and one of them is these peculiar sculptures nailed to the ground.

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Appearance of the akwanshi in its original location

The stones vary in height from just 25 centimeters to two meters, and the materials they are made of also vary, because they can be sandstone or much harder limestone and even bas alt. But whatever their material and size, they always have a phallic shape and their exterior is carved with different motifs that can be geometric tribal marks or the stylization of human features, both of the face and of the entire body. And besides, many of these reliefs appear reinforced by brightly colored paint, surely loaded with symbolism.

The denomination of “akwanshi” is given by the locals themselves, since for them that word means “dead person on the ground”. Something that would make us thinkthat it is a kind of tombs, but its use is not clear. For some researchers they would be monuments dedicated to the ancestors, but others relate them to rituals linked to harvests. And there are even those who think that it would be elements linked to religious or astronomical celebrations, since in each group, the monoliths usually form a circle.

Art historians and African cultures can't agree on its dating either. Many of them think that the vast majority were made at the beginning of the 16th century. Although there are also researchers who speak that they could be 4,000 years old. And yet there are other akwanshi that seem to have been made in the 19th century.

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Akwanshi at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

This is the case with the one exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, because although there are still examples of akwanshi in their original locations or in local museums, they It is true that others have been uprooted and looted to be sold and later displayed in great museums around the world.

In short, this is a magnificent example of how history for a long time has only been dedicated to contemplating the artistic manifestations of Europe, forgetting the rest of the world. This meant that many interesting data have been lost, although it was sometimes about territories occupied and exploited by those same Europeans. This is the reason for the deeplack of knowledge about works such as the akwanshi and many other African creations (the continent that is always the most forgotten of all). Quality works such as these peculiar sculptures that have sometimes been compared to European works such as Stonehenge or the Viking runestones.

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