World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean
Located at the crossroads of Africa and the Indian Ocean, the "Swahili Coast" has been a vibrant arena of global cultural convergence for over a millennium. For centuries, peoples from the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Africa and Europe have journeyed across the Indian Ocean in many directions. On the east African coast, this confluence of peoples gave rise to many diverse communities that are often called "Swahili"—after the Arabic word meaning "edge" or "coast."
Swahili Coast art has been shaped by complex migrations across great distances, the formation of new empires over centuries and the making and unmaking of communications and social identities. This exhibit explores Swahili arts as objects of mobility, outcomes of encounter and as products of trade and imperialism. Works from different regions and time periods come together in this exhibition to reveal the movement of artistic forms, motifs and preferences, while reflecting the changing meanings they may carry during the course of their life histories.