Lecture: Dr. David A. Binkley

  • 7:30 PM

Art Building West, room 240
141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City

"A View from the Forest: The Power of Southern Kuba Initiation Rites and Masks"

This presentation will consider the profound influence of Kete cultural and artistic practices on the Bushoong and other Kuba-related peoples. This includes Southern Kuba initiation rites, funerary practices, and masking traditions, which were established by the indigenous Kete prior to the migration of the proto-Bushoong into the region and their eventual rise to a regional power in the seventeenth century. 

Initiation rites and masking traditions among the Southern Kuba will be discussed from three distinct perspectives. The first is the deep-rooted potency and symbolism of the forest both as the abode of nature spirits, and as an instrument of male power and authority. The second demonstrates how the rites and their masking traditions celebrate traditional male power and authority, and underscore the importance of title-holding in both the forest camp and in the community at large. The third perspective demonstrates the authority of secret knowledge possessed by initiated men in the form of the visual and verbal esoteric arts, which include mask-making, proverbs, riddles, and long recitations. Initiated men fervently believe the acquisition of this lore transforms boys into men who will one day govern the community.

Dr. David A. Binkley was Chief Curator and Senior Curator for Research and Interpretation at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, where he developed numerous exhibitions and publications. He was also Curator of the Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. He holds a Ph. D. in Art History from Indiana University (1989). His doctoral research was on Kuba masking traditions associated with initiation rituals. 

Cost: Free

Contact: elizabeth-m-wallace@uiowa.edu

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