The art of sub-Saharan Africa has a long history, although it is difficult to reconstruct precisely because many works, being made from wood and earth, have disappeared without a trace and archaeological excavations, which could enrich our knowledge of the region, are still rare.
To fully appreciate the meaning of these artworks, it is necessary to relate them to the forms of life, societies and religion or beliefs that led to their creation or use.
Although they may vary from place to place, some elements seen to be recurrent and common to all African artistic tradition, statues are often figures of ancestors or deities and sacrifices offered to them to maintain communication with the other world, between gods and human, between the prescribed notion of the living and the dead.
Those Masks which are brought into the village from the forest are also displayed during invitation rites believed to guarantee social order, importing the value of community and punishing transgressors. The fertility of women and the fields is a recurrent theme expressed by Art. In societies with no writing system art offered material support for word, thus facilitating for the transmission of traditions.
While much attention is often paid to the forms, objects and themes of Art culture in Africa, it is very clear that the Artwork is almost never created solely for pleasure. These works are not the expression of the artist’s free imagination nor are they intended for the individual enjoyment of the collector. Far more ambitiously, their creation and purpose is to contribute to the order of the world – the well-being of the community and to maintaining life.