The silence has words?

These are words. I’m looking for instead the silence and I seek it because my gaze on African Arts, in silence, finds an original archetype.
Not the only one, obviously, but this is in my opinion the SILENCE, strong, powerful, and in the absence of voice and sound, speaks to our heart.

But that silence?

In african sculptural expressiveness, there are different interpretations; my gaze captures in the quality of the silence of certain faces, the precise matrix that my Latin ancestors claimed by the term SILERE as opposed to silence.

As written by L. Heilmann, a difference that characterizes sileo and taceo, facing each other, it is to be seen in the opposition between consciousness of silence as a reality that is created and the finding of silence as the absence of deprivation sound and word.

So that the “silence”, then, you wordlessly, stopping, mute before the divine reality, while “silere” is entering the divinity, becoming partakers of that same ineffable reality (Pier Cesare Bori).


Nkundu, Congo, Private coll. Italy

And this is the archetype of the silence of African sculpture, his face, his eyes and mouths: the silence as an act of will necessary for communication with the interior of the invisible forces that regulate and allocate the deeds of the individual and his community.

There is in this cry stifled longing for a communication with the spirits that govern human destiny and together the concentration of hieratic gesture mystical.
This face is not silent for lack of words; his SILERE is unlike the expression of the will to create that space mystic is essential for communication with the gods.
A space of silence and wanted militant who seem irrelevant, even harmful, words, prayers and cries.


Teke, Congo, Private coll. Italy

Ineffable the expressive quality of SILERE for this Teke figure!

The vertical setting sculptural face, facial tattoos, the rigorous execution of every single millimeter return an expression of potent concentration in which the true meaning is to penetrate the communication with the power of the invisible.
In fact, nothing would be worth a look grainy on the world if not to confuse, distract and, ultimately, to ward off the relationship with the forces that govern the fate of the community.basikasingo1Basikasingo, Congo, Private coll. Italy

The “great art of sleep” was defined as the sculptural Basikasigo (L. Zangrie). I agree in part. Agree with that definition merely descriptive terms, where it is clear the blank expression dictated by the closed eyelids.

I disagree, however, this interpretation effectively, if not also affirms the symbolic meaning of this gesture. The eyes are closed because they have nothing to see of the real world and the communication with the divine powers can only take place in the mystical space of silent concentration that only a strict attention to the inner world can induce. Sleep, therefore, not passive … but … a revealing sleep!

In this paper I will not dwell any longer on the meaning of quality of African sculpture, which follows from what I have written.
However, it seems clear that the production capabilities of the sculptor / blacksmith is directly related to his executive skill in representing the hieratic gesture of SILERE, its importance, its symbolic value.

And then, even more poor and inadequate apparirranno those sculptures where silence, rather than being internalized, is heard as much as the noise at peak times of our city !!

Elio Revera


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