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Imaging Otherness in Ivory: African Portrayals of the Portuguese ca. 1492

Suzanne Preston Blier
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 75, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 375-396
Published by: College Art Association
DOI: 10.2307/3045965
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3045965
Page Count: 22
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Imaging Otherness in Ivory: African Portrayals of the Portuguese ca. 1492
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Abstract

African ivories ca. 1492 make us aware of the historical boundaries of here and there, selfhood and other. This essay seeks to excavate the indigenous African cosmologies into which the early Portuguese entered. The analysis shifts historic interpretive emphases from European to African perspectives, thereby seeking to enrich knowledge both of the works themselves and of the cultures that made them. Within the context of the works we can see a continuing dialectic of mutual appropriation and investment-of money, meaning, value, and power-and, in the process, the production of new Portuguese and African identities as they articulated each other.

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