From Library Journal
These two books, both of which draw on fine museum holdings, demonstrate the importance of organization and focus in the editorial process. Reminiscent of "primitive art" publications of the 1950s and 1960s, Tribal Arts offers up objects, primarily African and Oceanic, with limited text and a seemingly random organization. Independent scholar Geoffroy-Schneiter's introduction, an excellent discussion of the Western appreciation and display of tribal art, offers no insight into the book's organization or why the objects it illustrates have been selected. Almost two-thirds of the volume focuses on African art and is loosely organized according to broad categories of function. The Oceanic works, mostly sculptures representative of major island groups, receive considerably less attention, while the inclusion of the few pages on Southeast Asian art is unexplained. The high-quality photos of the objects, mostly from French and Swiss collections (particularly the Mus e Barbier-Mueller in Geneva), are the book's best feature. The text, while limited in scope, is quite readable, with minimal academic jargon. Mildly recommended for general collections. The utilitarian nature of military weapons is obvious, but they can also have an aesthetic component, as amply demonstrated by Shields. In cultures utilizing spears, swords, and arrows as primary weaponry, shields serve as a key aspect of defense. A shield's size and structure encourage decoration, whether during its creation (as seen with basketry shields) or from enhancement with paint and sculpture. The purpose of this artistry ranges from simply providing a means of identifying the warrior's military unit, war accomplishments, and so forth to enhancing his control of powerful spiritual forces. Following essays discussing these functional and aesthetic issues is a catalog of 100 shields in the Mus e Barbier-Mueller collection, where both of the authors work. Each entry offers a large color photograph and a thorough explanation of the object. By far the best book on this distinctive topic, Shields is highly recommended for any library with holdings in art and anthropology. Eugene Burt, Seattle
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Publisher
Since ancient times the shield has had a variety of uses whether as a defensive - or more rarely, offensive - weapon, or as a ritual object invested with symbolic meanings. The authors reveal the shields' ethnic derivation and function. Illustrated with over 100 full-color photographs, as well as many drawings and historical pictures of individual shields in their original context, this book provides essential reading for collectors, students, and researchers, as well as for the general public interested in this little-known area of ethnographic art.