Werner Forman Archive



A comprehensive collection of photographs of ritual objects from famous museums and private collections throughout the world which illustrates the social organisation, religious life and myths and legends of the peoples of Black Africa. The art of the Ashanti, Baule, Chokwe, Dan, Dogon, Kongo, Kuba, Luba, Yoruba and many other African peoples is represented. 

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Chibinda Ilunga the legendary Chokwe hero.

Zaire, Chokwe, 19th-20th C. Courtesy Christie's.

Djenne terracotta figure of a devotee from an ancestral shrine.

Mali, Djenne, 13th-14th C. Detroit Institute of Arts.

Gunyege mask, the manifestation of a benevolent spirit.

E.Liberia, Dan, 20th C. Formerly Entwistle Gallery.


Dogon altar in the form of a dancing figure.

Mali, Dogon, early 20th C. Private collection.

Idia, the Queen Mother.

Nigeria, Benin, 16th C. British Museum, London.

Headdress. An ambivalent symbol associated with life and fertility. Death and sacrifice.

Nigeria, Idoma, 20th C. National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.

Staff used by the devotees of Shango.

Nigeria, Yoruba, 19th C. Musee Royal de l' Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgium.

Terracotta Djenne-Djenno figures.

Mali, Djenne, c.1400. Formerly Entwistle Gallery.

An anthropomorphic soapstone carving from the ancient site of Great Zimbabwe.

1200-1400. British Museum, London.