Essays

Essay Sample on Artefact Analysis

Artefact Analysis

This artifact, which we are going to analyze, is at the Textile Museum in Canada. Unlike other works, the artifact is made up of various materials like mineral pigments, wires, grass, cotton and beads. This combination of fine natural materials gives it a unique appearance. For this reason, the Museum management is unable to decide on whether to call it a headband, belt or necklace. The origin of this artifact is also a mystery, as the authorities believe it came from Malawi or South Africa. People believe that artists may have created the ornament during early 20th century. In this analysis, we shall use an excerpt by Lyotard, which talks about globalization. It says, “Eclecticism is the degree zero of contemporary general culture: one listens to reggae, watches a western, eats McDonald’s food for lunch and local cuisine for dinner, wears Paris perfume in Tokyo, and retro clothes in Hong Kong” (Lyotard, 87). This quote clearly the extent to which the world has changed as result of globalization. Today, people operate in the world as they do in a small village, with ease access to every corner without hindrances. This globalization is what the artifact captures in its entirety. Even though there is no solid evidence to affirm the origin of the ornament, it must have come from South Africa. However, its African origin could not hinder it from finding its way to a Canadian museum, thousands of miles away from Africa. From the materials and the skills applied in the making of the piece, it easy to notice cultural diversity and globalization. Clearly, the technique appears to be known to specific people in a certain part of the world and the raw materials may have come from different parts of the world.

It is worth noting that eclecticism, which appears in the excerpt, has a lot of weight in arts. It simply means employing old and new knowledge in order to come up with something new and unique. Importantly, the product of this process always causes confusion. This is why sometimes the world accuses eclectic artists of their inconsistent thinking. It is possible to notice this lack of consistency in the artifact above. For instance, there is no information on the exact origin of the piece apart from having come from Africa. In addition, the Museum still grapples with naming of the piece. Here, the authorities can hardly tell whether the ornament was made to serve as a belt, necklace or headband. This clearly tells us how the people behind this piece were unable to make up their mind while creating the ornament. Alternatively, the makers of the piece did not focus on its ultimate use but rather its value as an artifact. While this is the case, artists put a lot of emphasis on the purpose of an ornament or jewelry during its creation. It is therefore ambiguous and confusing that one cannot tell the purpose of such sterling piece of art. The ambiguity lies in the fact that the three functions, which artists postulate always vary widely in terms of measurements. This means that if the piece was to be a belt, then there is no way it could be mistaken for a necklace or headband.

Notably, the maker of the ornament used a piece of rope, which is attached to the end. This is an element of diversity since ropes did not come from Southern part of Africa and yet they artist used them on the piece. According to historians, Egyptians were among the first people to specialize in rope making. During those days, they used water reed fibers to come up with the ropes. However, the technology of making ropes spread to other parts of the world as time went by. This explains how the brain behind the ornament got the technology and applied it effectively (Fredrick Chaplin, 32). This is enough evidence supporting the words of Lyotard on the extent and impact of globalization in the world today. Globalization, as many people argue, reduces the world into a global village, allowing easy and effective flow of information and sharing of material without barriers related to time and geographical location.

Besides ropes, the maker of the ornament also used glass beads. It is important to note that glass bead making is an old skill, as it has been around for thousands of years. Archeologists believe that glass bead making was among man’s first attempts to invent the production of glass. The firs pieces of glass beads were discovered in the Mediterranean in BC years. By the ninth century, Nigeria had a glass beads industry. The industry largely depended of glass, which came from the Near East and Europe.

While this is the case, Africa is said to be the home of bead making technology. Generally, Africans loved beads and used them to depict their rich culture. Archeologists found the first beads in the world around 10,000BC in Sudan and Libya. However, Arabs quickly adopted this skill from Africans, especially through trade. Through these trade chains, Arabs passed the skill to Europeans. With this technology, these materials and skills crisscrossed the world with a lot of ease. This networks offer explanation on how the artifact found itself in the Canadian Museum.

Another material that the maker of the piece used was the wire. This, according to history, came from Egypt. In the second Millennium BC, Egyptians used a skill called swaging to manufacture wires, which had a range of uses. Swaging involved compressing a metal rod between other rods to produced thin strips, which would later become wires. This skill got to Italy in the second millennium BC, leading to the discovery of beaded wires making (Tucker, 30). Nonetheless, this technology was overtaken by superior methods of jewelry making with time. This explanation captures the movement of the skill across the world and got to parts Southern parts of Africa, from where this piece is believed to have been made.  Having been discovered in North Africa, the piece went to Italy and returned to Africa in a more improved state.

An analysis of the piece also reveals that the maker also used mineral pigment to create the piece. History shows that experts found the first evidence of mineral pigments in Zambia, which were about 300,000. People adopted these pigments for long distance trading. With the changing technology, the world adopted mineral pigments for painting since its color did not fade as compared to those that fabric makers used. Painters got varying colors by burning different pigments. This gave rise to a range of colors, which artists attached varying importance depending on their usage. For example, blue and purple were royalty colors because they were complex to make. This made them to be more expensive in the market than other colors. For early men who adopted the use of these pigments, they travelled long distances to obtain them. With time, more pigments were found in America and South Africa, explaining why makers of this piece settled on mineral pigments while creating the ornament.

Deeper analysis of the piece further shows that its makers used three core techniques. There were braiding, hand sewing and beadwork. Importantly, these skills came from different parts of the world and moved for years before reaching the place where the ornament was made. According to archeologists, men used this technology near the end of the ice age. At this time, the skill was popular in sewing hides, skins and fur. During this time, people did not use needles especially when dealing with bones and ivory. Native Americans are believed to have used wood and needles from the agave plant to make artifacts. Even though this technology was first used in Egypt, Chinese and Japanese later adopted it and made improvements for spinning silk. Sewing continued to advance over the years even with the invention of the sewing machine, which was also bettered for efficiency and effectiveness. Today, man uses heavy commercial machines for sewing, since they can put together several pieces within a short time, leading to the ever expanding of the textile industry. Besides this massive advancement of technology throughout history, some people still practice hand sewing. Thus, hand-sewn products are rare and pricey. It is a rare skill because most people abandoned hand sewing for machines. As seen earlier, machine sewing saves time and energy, a factor that has boosted the significance growth of the textile industry.

It is worth noting that man adopted braiding upon the discovery of the ropes. With braiding, it was possible to make stronger ropes as the technology allowed man to put together two or more ropes. This improved the quality of the product even though buyers had to part with more money.

It is evident that all these facts about the artifact converge to the words of Lyotard. The explanation shows eclectic art was not only common in olden days but is still rife in modern days. As a result, the world has witnessed massive innovations to better the early inventions. While this is the case, the trends have remained inconsistent and confusing, which the words of Lyotard clearly captures. This is because it is almost impossible to keep tabs with ever emerging inventions in the world. Additionally, men can hardly stick to a single item and make a clear decision about them. They are in constant competition and whenever one discovers something, someone else works hard to better it.

Human inconsistency is also rife in how they oscillate between modern and ancient technology.  A good example is the artifact above, which represents some of the first pieces of man to invent. However, with new discoveries in glass and gem ornaments, people abandoned these skills for improved ones. Today, the world sees such ornaments as treasure, an attribute that the piece above enjoys. Even with the advancement in technology, some parts of Africa still produce these fine artifacts and export to Western nations costly.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Frederic Chapin, Lane. “The Rope Factory and Hemp Trade of Venice in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries”. Journal of Economic and Business History, Vol. 4 No. 4. 1932. Print.

Lyotard, J. “The Postmodern Condition”. Manchester University Press, 1984. 87. Print.

Tucker, D. “The seventeenth century wireworks at Whitebrook, Monmouthshire”. Bull. Hist. Metall. Gp 7(1) (1973), 28-35.

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