From Publishers Weekly
More than four million Senegalese follow the Mouride Way, a Sufi movement based on the teachings of Sheikh Amadou Bamba, a mystic who died in 1927. A single surviving photograph of Bamba, taken around 1913 and reproduced in this fascinating monograph, has become iconic: in it, Bamba wears a startlingly white, long-sleeved robe and a loose, white wrap across his head; his features are difficult to discern, sharply in shadow and light, and his standing posture is direct and upright. Mourides believe that images of Bamba offer potency, protection and prosperity. Artists across Senegal, but mostly centered in Dakar, have taken this arresting image and infinitely reproduced it, creating devotional murals, textiles and glass art. One muralist named Papisto Boy says, "As far as I am concerned, when I see his portrait, it helps me overcome all obstacles. It gives me force, and it gives me courage." Allen F. Roberts, director of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center at UCLA, and Mary Nooter Roberts, deputy director and chief curator of the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, have brought together works from street artists and fine artists to broadly paint how the Mourides visually celebrate Bamba. Ten chapters provide 274 color illustrations of everything from stunning, colorful glass paintings by local artists to sculptures by Moustapha Dime, who exhibited at the 1993 Venice Biennale. One chapter explores "Healing Words: Mouride Arts of Writing and Inscription," while another uncovers "Portraits of the Hidden Side: Sanctifying Domestic Space." A glossary, map and notes to the text further clarify this complex, pious art. Photographs of artists selling, making, hanging or contemplating the works add further dimensions of religious, ideological and economic life.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Allen F. Roberts is professor of world arts and cultures and director of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center at UCLA. Mary Nooter Roberts is deputy director and chief curator of the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History.