Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Paris in August - Musee du Quai Branly

Musee du Quai Branly. The Musee du Quai Branly was recently built on one of the last available sites in the heart of Paris on the Quai Branly, at the feet of the Eiffel Tower by the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, Jean Nouvel. The building resembles a long bridge, partly covered in wood, with suspended “boxes” which stretch into the trees. It is protected from the noise of the quays by glass palisade. To reach the museum you must cross un-dulating paths of what seems to be untamed greenery, designed by vertical garden designer, Patrick Blanc. The arts of Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas are beautifully lit and exhibited inside. The museum is also an educational and research centre and a public living space all in one. Though architectonically, I don’t think the building will stand the test of time, the permanent exhibition is certainly worth a visit, especially if you are interested in ethnic art and cultures.

Musee du Quai Branly – Oceania. Funeral masks from Papua New Quinea. The Asmat Papua tribe on the south east coast of New Guinea, perform a funeral ceremony called Jipae in order to drive out the soul of the dead person, which may wander around the village. The soul of the dead person is represented by one of his relatives wearing a mask like this one. The man in mask dances throughout the night until sunrise and then he is attacked and expelled by the village men.

Musee du Quai Branly – Africa. The back of an Akhnif berber cape, from the Aitouaouzguit region. The cape is typical of Jewish or Muslim Shepherds from the mountainous regions of Morocco. Made with sheep and goat wools, silk and leather. The cape is hand-woven in one piece, usually by the shepherd’s wife or mother. The colorful motifs are characteristics of the Akhnif tribe.

Musee du Quai Branly - Africa. The front of an Akhnif berber cape.

Musee du Quai Branly – Africa. An early twentieth century, black and white, pigments and wood Bedu mask from the Nafana population of the Ivory Coast in Africa.
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