Art and Power

In many world cultures, the arts play an integral role in defining and activating power. Although commonly associated with domination and military might, power and the concepts surrounding it are far more nuanced when explored in cross-cultural perspective. The works presented in this section, for example, have been used not only to augment political authority but also to ensure control over the environment, negotiate gender relationships, or express status and prestige.

Intended to balance power relationships or to harness spiritual forces, such objects visibly convey their authority and significance. Some are characterized by the use of precious materials, signaling rarity and wealth. Others incorporate symbolic motifs with meanings known only to particular individuals or groups. Still others represent animals possessing characteristics that are actually or metaphorically associated with power and leadership. The works featured here facilitate and represent hierarchical relationships through form, aesthetic conception, and attendant uses and meanings.

In the menu to the left, click on the headings nested below Art and Power to learn more.

  • X2006.5.1 Gelede Mask

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    Headdress with motorcycle and rider (ere gelede)
    Artist: Eloi Lokossou (Republic of Benin, artistäs dates unknown)
    Yoruba peoples
    Republic of Benin
    Early 1990’s
    Wood and paint
    Fowler Museum at UCLA. Anonymous Gift. X2006.5.1

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  • X65.4284 Headdress

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    Object Name: Headdress

    Artist: Unknown

    Culture: Haida

    Place of Origin: British Columbia, Canada

    Date/Era: 19th century

    Dimensions: H: 68.6 cm

    Medium/Materials: Wood, pigment, fiber

    Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust.

    Accession Number: X65.4284

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  • X65.5813ab Bottle

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    Not Currently On View in Intersections 


    Object Name: Bottle

    Artist: Unknown

    Cultural Group: Bamileke peoples

    Place of Origin: Cameroon

    Date: 19th century

    Dimensions: Total Height: 62.50 cm, H: 53.50 cm, DIAM: 21.00 cm

    Materials Used: Gourd, glass beads, textile, felt, thread

    Credit Line and Accession Number: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust. X65.5813ab

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  • X77.486 Necklace

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    Yemen, obtained in Israel
    19th-early 20th century
    H: 37.0 cm, W: 38.0 cm, D: 1.0 cm (H: 14.5 in, W: 14.9 in, D: .39 in)
    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene L. Trope in memory of Sophia Friedman. X77.486

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