wondering...about the wonders of this wonderfull...world

wondering...about the wonders of this wonderfull...world
foto x arnaldo @MMXIproject
A couple of summers ago, coming home from class, I took the subway with a friend and I told her I was trying to start a blog... then I also told her how time consuming and addicting it had become, and that I was wondering if it was something worth doing... she laughed and asked me to let her know when I was done and give her the"link" so she could read it. Then she left and I kept thinking...why? why should I do this ?

Technology has taken us to a new level and we are now, able to "publish ourselves"! PUBLISH OURSELVES however we want to; if you want to be yourself, transparent and out in the open, or even if you want to pretend to be someone else... YOU CAN! Now you can blog and share your thoughts and experiences with people without having them "altered" by the editors, or "chosen" because of how cool or marketable they are...

This space is for us to share; zaidibirindilindilandia-my own little world, my ingenious- and your thoughts!

welcome, and thank you!

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Seating in State: Royal Regalia of the leaders of the Asantem Kongo and Kuba Kingdoms

Chiefs and rulers from the kingdoms of the Asante, Kongo and Kuba were regarded as prominent and sacred. Because of this, they utilize royal regalia to enhance their “in state” position, give a sense of magnificence, and of powerful and eternal office. Leaders commission art, send messages with it and use it to reaffirm their status. In these African kingdoms Royal Regalia is abundant and in everything; even in their sandals, stools, chairs, and raised platforms. They use sumptuous materials like animal skins, teeth, claws, beads, feathers and special cloths to add importance and prestige to their stance. Weapons such as flywhisks, staffs, and swords symbolically magnify their gestures. Other elements of display surrounding the Kings such as carpets, drums, pots and statues, serve as with decorations and might be almost as important as the kings themselves.
In Akan culture, chiefs and kings to proudly overload with jewelry that serves as amulet charms; anklets, bracelets and rings, or even in their in their sandals. These are believed to give supernatural power and protection to the wearer as well as make a statement of superiority and immunity to evil spirits. The regalia belongs to the king for the duration of his reign and when it is over, it becomes part of the state’s collective legacy and its passed on to the succeeding chiefs. However, one of their most respected items is “The golden stool” (7-4). Although THIS one is only used as a ritual object, and it is the central symbol of the Akan states because it represents the Asante confederacy and unison, every asantahene commissions his own stool for daily or ceremonial use. They are carved out of a single piece of wood and are a representation of his reign. The stools are believed to be the second soul of asantahene. When he dies, his body will be blackened and his hair and nails will be put inside the core of the stool symbolizing his passing away and becoming an influential ancestor. The asantahene also has a state sword that represents the protection of the Asante confederacy. They might be decorated with symbols that refer to African proverbs and act like a symbolic language.
Kente cloth or royal textile is used for Leader’s dress. It used to be only made of blue and while or other dull colors but with the beginning the trade of rich silks, it started to be made in the brighter colors we are familiar with now. It was called the Liar's cloth because it was supposed to uncover the truth.
In the central African kingdom of the Kongo, leadership arts specialize in the production of opulent goods. Although they craft outstanding flywhisks with ivory handles, staffs that containing spiritually charged substances that induce contact with the supernatural world and other beautifully carved figures; one of the most special objects that the Kongo produced were their royal textiles. Made with special indigenous weaving techniques, they created a pile cloth (11-3) made from raffia that had raised lozenges (lozenges were sacred shapes that refer to their belief or the four stages of life (from birth, to rebirth) and was used to cover the platform of the king and his court. Leopard skins were also used, as leopards represent noble status and anthropomorphic qualities -that the king can become leopard because important people reincarnate as fixtures of the environment-.
The kings and nobles of the Kuba kingdom are the main patrons of the arts. One of the most important objects for them was the state dress or bwaantshy (11-52). Each king was expected to design his own costume, wear it in the most important occasions and even and be buried with it. These exaggerated, abundant and very heavy ensembles are symbols of sacred kingship, and served to link them to the original peoples of the land. They reflect the wealth, power, prosperity and provision that each king brings to the community, while emphasizing the hierarchic position that separates him from “earth”. The costume might consist of a tunic made out of raffia covered with beads and cowries, as well as a headdress with feathers, an artificial cowry beard, a raffia belt, beaded sashes, leopard skins, and cowry decorated gloves and boots with encrusted ivory nails. The costume and the paraphernalia around him are a conglomeration of symbolic objects that add and exaggerate his size and majesty. The king is seated in a raised platform or throne also covered in cowries and leopard skins, and next to him is the royal blue basket that alludes to the creation myth of mweel and woot. He holds the sword of office and a cowry-encrusted lance. Cowry shells and leopard skins are seen a lot, as symbols of wealth, cowries were the local currency and leopards were seen as powerful animals.
Besides the state dress, Kuba people also follow a tradition of royal portraiture. The portraits are idealized representations of the king believed to be their soul double. They concentrate on few symbolic and individualizing details of each king’s reign and the royal panoply including the throne, cowry sashes, the headdress, the pose, and the weapon or the monarch.
It is so interesting to see how societies that share a continent and a somewhat similar and interrelated beliefs, have such varied and particular ways of honoring their kings. But it was even more interesting to see how they were each so creative and unique in their ways and impressed us every time.

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