Aesthetics

Even more than their technique, the Nok artisans/artists mastered the dimension of aesthetics. Their representation of the notable things in their society shows us the attention attached to details going far beyond basic preoccupations, such as eating, hunting or defending themselves. The detailed reproduction of costume, hairstyle, clothing, and the unlimited imagination of shapes and the creativeness of the sculptures are a clear indication of the high degree of civilization and refinement achieved by the Nok society.

It would not be an exaggeration to speak of a Nok fashion, according to the undoubtedly very codified beauty criteria: unrestrained inventiveness of the hairstyles, richness of the costumes and jewels, and refinement of fabrics, pleated, braided, knotted.


• Hairstyles

The expert eye marvels at the bilobed, trilobed, quadrilobed buns, hairdos with buns, coils, plaits, braids, twists, locks, shells, curlpapers, headbands, crowns, turbans, rolls, diadems, lateral single buns for men like those worn by the Egyptians in our Hollywood epics, moustaches, pointed beards... And the shape itself of the hairstyles copies that of the inverted gourds worn as protection against the sun and the hair is sculpted to give it the shape of brimmed hats (like the boater hat or the tropical helmet) or visored caps.

» Inventiveness of the hairstyles

• Jewels

The jewels use all the resources of the time and of the place: pearl necklaces of tin and quartz, mineral ball pendants, terracotta amulets around the neck, breast bands of braided straw, ear jewels in gold or silver, rope belts, penis coverings made of leather or raffia, arm-bands, knee-bands, anklets and bracelets. Interestingly, the most ancient penis coverings to be found in art history are represented on pre- and protodynastic Egyptian statues, from around 3,000 B.C.

» Sumptuousness of the jewels


• Clothes

The garment is also marvelously represented and illustrated by an abundance of pleated fabrics, G-strings, draped or knotted loinclothes, embroidered capes, shoulder-belts, armbands, harnesses...striving to show the rank and stature of the represented figure. We should not forget, for example, that wearing pearls is a royal prerogative...

» Refinement of fabrics

In their hands, the enlightened amateur might find a curved sceptre, a sign of spiritual power, a talisman, a sign of strength, or a kind of fly swatter whip (the Egyptian flagellum) that we know from the majestic representation of the pharaohs.