A study of the Eritrean art and material culture in the collections of the National Museum of Eritrea.
Ghebrehiwot, Petros Kahsai.
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Eritrean art and material culture has not been accorded its rightful pace, neither has it been sufficiently isolated from its Ethiopian counterparts. Like the other reconstruction challenges facing Eritrea, following the 30 years' war for independence, the field of art and culture is in need of reconstruction. This study aimed to contextualize selected Eritrean material culture in terms of social, cultural, historical, art-historical and iconographic values. The selected artefacts have been studied in terms of construction, tactility of materials, iconography and functionality of the objects' form and surface. This dissertation provides a photographic documentation of the study samples. Results of this study indicate that makers of Eritrean material culture primarily aimed at the functional values of most of the objects instead of the aesthetic values. This is clearly shown on the form of the objects which describe the function. The makers produced the material culture to their own taste, reflecting the culture or religion they represent. The study samples are taken from the Ethnographic Section of the National Museum of Eritrea (NME). This study investigated museum practices, including challenges and limitations, as well as future plans of the NME. Information was elicited from knowledgeable individuals, fieldwork data collection, secondary sources and visual analysis of the study sample. The study recommended that this young institution (NME) needs to be empowered by the Government and solve its problems, so as to play a major role in reconstructing Eritrean cultural identity and preserving cultural heritage. In addition, research centres should be established to work on the process of the documentation and construction of Eritrean art history. Besides training individuals, the research centre should organize national and international conferences, conduct workshops and organize, recognize and encourage artists.
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