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.
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Headdress with motorcycle and rider (ere gelede)
Artist: Eloi Lokossou (Republic of Benin, artistäs dates unknown)
Republic of Benin
Wood and paint
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Anonymous Gift. X2006.5.1
Object Name: Headdress
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
Not Currently On View in Intersections
Object Name: Bottle
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
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