An image depicting Mansa Musa from the 1375 Catalan Atlas https://www.thoughtco.com/splendor-in-medieval-africa-1788244
Art is a form of expression, an expression of belief, of a character, of feeling and ancient medieval African art is no exception. Some much can be embedded in a single piece. Art can tell a story, to show emotion, art expresses and translates; art acknowledges and reveals, art transfers and art intervenes. Art is the present, the past and also tries to explain the unknown; it is a trajectory of what the future holds. Art is much more than just canvas and ink.
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Most African art is done in honor of ancestors, kings, and gods. In the current piece of art, the work is in honor of Mansa Musa who was the tenth emperor of present day Mali. The image was done back in the 14th century by to Cresques Abraham, and in the present day, the image is at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
The artistic piece at hand is more than just in honor of Mansa Musa. From it, it is possible to learn about the way of life of Mali residents in ancient and medieval Africa. There is a lot of detail in the piece which is quite informative. The piece of art shades light on the political, economic and religious aspects of the community. The center of the image is Mansa Musa, the emperor, who is the political leader of the community.
In his hand, the emperor holds a gold coin which appears to hold some significance for the community. Mining seems to be the primary economic activity of the community and particularly gold mining. On the far left side of the image, a man is riding on a camel which indicates that the camel is used as a means of transport. Several mosques are distributed across the image a clear indication that the community is particularly religious majority of its members being Muslims.