AFRICAN CEREMONIES.

Author:Beckwith, Carol
Position:Review
 
FREE EXCERPT

Volumes l&2/HB/slip case

[pounds]95. Harry N. Abramns Inc. (USA)

ISBN 0-8109-4205-4

The traditional rites that mark the passage of life for Africa's peoples are lovingly documented and revealed in this extraordinary work. It is the culmination of three decades of photographic assignments throughout the continent.

The two authors - Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher - a US- and Australian-born partnership, first met at a Maasai warrior ceremony in East Africa in 1978. Pooling their resources, they embarked on a close working friendship and published their first co-authored book, African Ark, in 1990.

Since then they have produced a stream of very high quality and thoroughly researched hooks on a variety of African themes. Their pictures have regularly appeared in National Geographic, Time and dozens of other international publications. In an attempt to make their work more accessible to African readers, they made their pictures available to our own group, IC Publications, especially New African Life which has sadly ceased publication. The impact of their work through such pan-African publications has been immense.

The two volumes of African Ceremonies represent over 40 specific cultural events arranged in six chapters, from `Birth and Initiation' through `Courtship and Marriage', `Royalty and Power', `Seasonal Rites', `Beliefs and Worship' and `Spirits and Ancestors'. They are illustrated by sumptuous photography which captures the fascinating images of important rituals that have been practised the length and breadth of Africa.

Its not only the technical proficiency of these two photographers that is so outstanding. Equally evident is their ability to observe (and record) in harmony with their subjects. Each of the many hundreds of photographs have that important but indefinable quality that suggests the peoples portrayed are totally at ease. This points to the remarkable dedication of the authors to understand, respect and embrace the cultures they are witnessing. Much time was devoted to patiently building...

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