Face of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas by Robert Farris Thompson

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Prestel 1st ed, 1993.

‘Robert Farris Thompson, Professor of the History of African and African-American Art at Yale University, has been working on this study of African-Atlantic altars for twenty-five years. Face of the Gods is based on fieldwork in both Africa and the Americas - in Mali, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Zaire, the Central African Republic, Angola, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, on the eastern part of the Atlantic, and in Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Suriname, the United States, Brazil, and Argentina, on the western. The book shows how the Africans and their descendants in the three continents worship not only before points of reverence, foci of sacrifice and prayer, but also, in certain areas, through sacred happening climaxed by possession. In the Afro-Atlantic world the concept "altar" is double: fixed (tree, fire, stone, dais) and moving (ring shouts, dancing, handclapping, circling, ecstasy), leading ultimately to visitation by healing spirits under God.’ Rare book that has been long out of print, over 300 hundred pages of dense writing and tremendous photography. '