For more than two millennia, African blacksmiths have transformed one of Earth's most basic natural resources into objects of life-changing utility, empowerment, prestige, spiritual potency, and astonishing artistry--shaping African cultures in the most fundamental ways. Striking Iron combines interdisciplinary scholarship with vivid illustrations to offer the most comprehensive treatment to date of the blacksmith's art in sub-Saharan Africa. Interspersed throughout are photographs of more than 250 diverse works from over 100 ethnic groups--including tools, blades, currencies, wood sculptures studded with iron, musical instruments, and accoutrements--with field photographs documenting blacksmiths at work and objects in use. Seventeen contributors write from the disciplinary perspectives of art history, art, anthropology, archaeology, history, and astronomy, examining how the blacksmiths' virtuosity can harness powers of the natural and spiritual worlds, effect change and ensure protection, assist with life's challenges and transitions, and enhance the efficacies of sacred acts.
Exhibition dates: Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris, November 19, 2019, to March 29, 2020