Facts About African Drawings

Facts About African Drawings

April 30, 2023

African drawings are an important part of African art and culture. They are often created using traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations of African artists. These drawings are known for their intricate designs and bold use of color.

One of the most famous types of African drawings is the Adinkra symbols. These symbols are used by the Akan people of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to represent different concepts and ideas. The symbols are often used to decorate cloth and are also used in jewelry and other decorative items.

Another important type of African drawing is the Ndebele art of South Africa. Ndebele art is known for its use of bright colors and geometric shapes. The art is often used to decorate the exteriors of homes and other buildings.

The Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania are also known for their drawings. Maasai art often features images of animals and is created using a technique called beadwork. Beadwork involves using brightly colored beads to create intricate designs.

One of the most important aspects of African drawings is the use of storytelling. Many African drawings are created to tell stories about African history and culture. These stories are often passed down through generations and are an important part of African tradition.

African drawings have also had a significant impact on modern art. Many contemporary artists have been inspired by the bold designs and vibrant colors of African art. The influence of African art can be seen in everything from fashion to interior design.

African drawings refer to artistic creations made using various drawing techniques and styles by artists of African origin or artists inspired by African culture, traditions, and themes.

African drawings can encompass a wide range of subject matter, including but not limited to:

  1. Wildlife: African drawings often depict the diverse and iconic wildlife found on the African continent, such as elephants, lions, cheetahs, zebras, and more. Wildlife is a popular subject matter in African drawings, as it reflects the continent's rich biodiversity and the deep connection between humans and nature in African culture. These drawings often showcase the animals in a stylized way, using bold lines, patterns, and colors that capture the essence of each species. Some artists create detailed and realistic portraits of animals, while others take a more abstract approach, using shapes and forms to suggest the animal's characteristics. African wildlife drawings are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also have a cultural significance, as they represent the relationship between humans and the natural world, which is an important aspect of many African societies.

  2. Portraits: African drawings may depict people, including individuals from different African ethnic groups, capturing their unique features, expressions, and cultural attire. 

    Portraits are a popular subject matter in African drawings. Many African artists have created stunning portraits of individuals from different African ethnic groups, capturing their unique features, expressions, and cultural attire. These portraits provide insight into the diversity and richness of African culture and the people who inhabit it.

    In many African societies, portraits were created to honor important figures such as tribal leaders, warriors, and spiritual leaders. These portraits often conveyed the individual's status and importance within the community. Today, portraits remain an important aspect of African art, providing a window into the lives and traditions of people across the continent.

    One example of a famous African portrait artist is Ben Enwonwu, a Nigerian artist known for his portraits of African cultural figures. Enwonwu's portraits often featured intricate patterns and textures, capturing the unique beauty and complexity of African culture.

    Another example is the Ghanaian artist, Amoako Boafo, whose portraits often feature bold, colorful backgrounds and striking depictions of African men and women. Boafo's portraits challenge traditional notions of African masculinity and femininity, celebrating the diversity and individuality of African people.

  3. Tribal Art: African drawings can also feature traditional tribal art, including masks, sculptures, and body adornments, which hold deep cultural and spiritual significance in various African communities. 

    African tribal art is a diverse and vibrant aspect of the continent's artistic heritage. Tribal art encompasses a wide range of styles and techniques, from the intricate beadwork of the Maasai people to the bold, abstract designs of the Dogon people. Many African tribal artworks are created using natural materials, such as wood, clay, and plant fibers, and are often decorated with colorful pigments or other embellishments.

    African tribal art often serves a specific function within the community, such as representing ancestral spirits, warding off evil, or celebrating important events. Masks, for example, are an important part of many African tribal traditions and are used in a variety of contexts, from religious ceremonies to social gatherings. Sculptures and body adornments, such as necklaces and bracelets, are also common forms of tribal art and are often used to signify social status or to mark important life events.

    The cultural significance of African tribal art has led to a renewed interest in the art form in recent years, both within Africa and around the world. Many contemporary artists and designers have been inspired by the bold, graphic designs and intricate techniques of African tribal art, and have incorporated elements of the style into their own work. In addition, there has been a growing interest in preserving and promoting African tribal art as a way of preserving cultural heritage and promoting cross-cultural understanding.

  4. Folklore and Mythology: African drawings may incorporate themes from African folklore, mythology, and legends, which often feature deities, spirits, and supernatural beings. These drawings may depict well-known characters and stories such as Anansi the spider from West African mythology or the trickster hare from East African folklore. These characters are often depicted in intricate and detailed drawings that incorporate symbolism and storytelling elements.

  5. Landscapes: African drawings may portray African landscapes, including savannas, deserts, rainforests, rivers, and mountains, showcasing the diverse and rich natural environment of the continent.

  6. Cultural Symbols and Patterns: African drawings often feature cultural symbols, patterns, and motifs that are significant to African cultures, such as Adinkra symbols from Ghana or Ndebele patterns from South Africa.

  7. Body Art: African drawings may also depict traditional African body art and body painting, which have been used for various cultural and ceremonial purposes.

  8. Contemporary Art: African drawings can also encompass contemporary art styles and techniques, reflecting the modern African art scene and the creative expressions of African artists in the present day.

African drawings are not just a form of art, they are also a way of communicating. They have been used for centuries to tell stories, record history, and convey important messages. In many African societies, drawings are a way of preserving cultural traditions and passing them down from one generation to the next.

One example of how African drawings are used to tell stories is the tradition of adire textile art in Nigeria. Adire is a Yoruba word that means "tie and dye." This technique involves creating intricate patterns on cloth using wax resist dyeing. The patterns often depict animals, plants, and other elements of nature, and are meant to convey a message or tell a story.

African drawings are also used in religious and spiritual contexts. The Dogon people of Mali, for example, use drawings to represent their cosmology, which includes complex beliefs about the universe and the afterlife. The drawings are often carved into wood or painted onto rock, and are used in rituals and ceremonies.

In addition to their cultural significance, African drawings are also appreciated for their aesthetic qualities. Many African drawings are characterized by bold, abstract designs and bright, contrasting colors. These qualities have inspired many modern artists and designers, who have incorporated elements of African art into their work.

One of the challenges of preserving African drawings is that many of them were created using materials that are not durable over time. For example, drawings made with vegetable dyes or other natural materials may fade or deteriorate over time. This has led to efforts to digitize and archive African drawings so that they can be preserved and studied for future generations.

In conclusion, African drawings are a rich and complex form of art that have played an important role in African culture and history. They are used to tell stories, convey messages, and preserve traditions. African drawings have also had a significant impact on modern art and design, and continue to inspire artists and designers around the world. Preserving and studying African drawings is essential for understanding and appreciating the richness and diversity of African culture.

Size Guide

Centimeters (CM)

Inches (IN)

50CM x 40CM

19 11/16 in X 15 3/4 in

50CM x 50CM

19 11/16 in X 19 11/16 in

60CM x 60CM

23 5/8 in X 23 5/8 in

70CM x 50CM

27 9/16 in X 19 11/16 in

80CM x 60CM

31 1/2 in X 23 5/8 in

100CM x 80CM

39 3/8 in X 31 1/2 in

140CM x 110CM

55 1/8 in X 43 5/16 in