In African history, sculpture was the dominant form of art. The earliest known african sculpture are from
the Nok culture from the Nigerian region, made around 500 BC. Along with sub-Saharan Africa, the cultural
arts, sculptures, paintings and artifacts and indigenous southern crafts also contributed greatly to African art.
Often depicting the abundance of surrounding nature, the art and sculpture was often abstract interpretations of
humans, plant life, animals, natural designs and shapes.
The over stylized representations of humans in African sculpture were used much the way that we use airbrushed
photos today - to represent the ideal human form. The sculptures of Africa are very distinctive and it is not hard
to tell what region a piece of sculpture is from based on the form of the sculpture and what the characteristics of
the sculpted form are. Clay figures have been found in parts of Africa that date back to about 600 BC.
On the other hand, wood is the one of the natural material for sculptures. In the 20th century,
sculpture in wood is still very much a living tradition. Samples from the 19th century have been preserved in
reasonable number, largely by the efforts of avid enthusiasts and collectors. But earlier work has crumbled or lost
irretrievably, eaten by ants or rotted by damp.