On this page :

  1. Aesthetics and ethnohistory
  2. A rich source of reference
  3. Comprehensive coverage of weapons
  4. Insight into history and cultures
  5. Lavishly illustrated
  6. About the author





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Traditional weapons of Africa

a series of books

Ancient arms and armours of the African continent

by Tristan Arbousse-Bastide








Innovative combination of aesthetics and ethnohistory

Tristan Arbousse-Bastide publishes with Archaeopress ("British Archaeological Reports International Series"), a series of three monographs about traditional weapons in Africa. Over the centuries, bladed weapons have played a central role in war and hunting. However, traditional arms and armours can also be viewed and understood as an art form. Their study offers a fascinating insight into many cultural aspects of traditional life. Each book is based on the study of hundreds of weapons from the most prestigious collections of ethnographic art.

A rich source of reference for professionals, academics and art collectors

Originally published for professional and academic audiences these monographs are the perfect companions to inspire and inform all the amateurs of African antiques. The author develops a comprehensive and systematic classification using technical, morphological, and aesthetic evidences. Each type of weapon is carefully described, analyzed and represented as a graphic model facilitating its identification. The location of each type of weapon is indicated on various maps at continental and regional levels. A complete list of sources and references give the reader all the necessary data to search for further information specific to any object mentioned in the books.

Comprehensive coverage of edged weapons

Monographs written by Tristan Arbousse-Bastide provide a comprehensive coverage of edged weapons in Africa, with particular emphasis on the 19th and early 20th century. The three volumes on the traditional weapons of Africa are considered as an authoritative overview of this vast and complex field. The books are useful reference guides for museum curators, art merchants or collectors of ethnographic art. They provide a solid basis for the identification of ancient and traditional weapons. Each volume in the series focuses on a particular set of weapons with common characteristics (see table below and the typology guide of the website).

Weapons of Africa volume 1
BAR IS n° 1098
Straight blade with convergent or divergent edges
Dagger, poniard, short-sword, sword, small chopper, chopper
Weapons of Africa volume 2
BAR IS n° 1764
Straight or curved blade with convex edge
Knife, cutlass, cleaver, machete, sabre
Weapons of Africa volume 3
BAR IS n° 2149
Curved blade with concave edge
Short-sickle, small billhook, billhook, sickle, scythe

Fascinating insight into history and cultures

As a form of art, ancient traditional weapons offer an insight deep into African paideia. Careful analysis of the morphology, technology and the decorative art of traditional weapons is a key to interpreting their use as practical tools, but also as symbolic objects: cultural emblem for populations, status symbol for the authority, justice or for royal lineage, exchange value in the pre-colonial economy. Most of the examples described by Tristan Arbousse-Bastide were collected during the Victorian era, a period that corresponds to the apogee of many populations in Africa. The study covers over 170 different ethnic groups across the entire African continent (see the ethnic index of this website).

Lavishly illustrated

The monographs are illustrated throughout with over 500 drawings from the author’s hand. They reveal the fascinating design and beauty of “primitive” blades. The morphological tables provide a systematic framework and a rigorous nomenclature for the analysis of every part of the weapons. Line drawings perfectly complement the descriptions and allow to clearly define the characteristics of each weapon. Through the use of maps showing the geographic origins of different types of weapons, readers can quickly identify the source of a given piece.

About the author

Tristan Arbousse-Bastide is an archaeologist and anthropologist. He did his doctorate at the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and at Oxford University under the joint supervision of Professor O. Buchsenshutz and Professor B. Cunliffe. After his studies he conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Toyama in Japan. Tristan began studying traditional African weapons since 1996 when he was assistant curator at the Museum of Saint-Cyr-Coetquidan.

Volume 1
BAR IS n° 1098
Volume 2
BAR IS n° 1764
Volume 3
BAR IS n° 2149
See also
Oriental Arms
 







Title :
Armes traditionnelles d'Afrique
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