The first exhibition of its kind, Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara explores the art and history of the Sahel (a region of Western Africa comprised of modern-day Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) from before the Common Era to the 19th century. The region was an active participant in global trade networks throughout the Middle Ages, and the exhibition explores these networks and the region’s relationship with Islam beginning in the 7th century.
An excerpt from the exhibition’s overview:
Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara is the first exhibition of its kind to trace the legacy of [the Sahel] and what they produced in the visual arts. The presentation brings into focus transformative developments—such as the rise and fall of political dynasties, and the arrival of Islam—through some two hundred objects, including sculptures in wood, stone, fired clay, and bronze; objects in gold and cast metal; woven and dyed textiles; and illuminated manuscripts.
While the Met remains closed to the public in light of the coronavirus pandemic, several online resources allow you to virtually visit the exhibition. These include a virtual tour, an exhibition guide, a list of exhibition objects, and more.
Above image: Female Figure with Raised Arm, 15th–17th century, Mali, Ireli (?), wood (Ficus or Moraceae), organic materials, H. 17 5/8 × W. 3 1/4 × D. 4 7/8 in. (44.8 × 8.3 × 12.4 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979 (1979.206.64)