Before John D. Rockefeller, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos existed, Mansa Musa existed. Born in the 13th century, when West Africa was a rich source of gold, the King of the Kingdom of Mali was the richest man in the world and may remain the richest man ever to have lived. The life of Mansa Musa and the world he lived in are now the subject of new exhibitions at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
"Caravans of Gold, Fragments of Time: Art, Culture and Art The exchange on the medieval Sahara-Africa" highlights parts of Africa before the European colonization and the slave trade in the Atlantic. From the 8th to the 16th centuries, remarkably pure gold mined in West Africa crossed the Sahara Desert via trade routes and fueled the economies of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The resources and influence of West Africa made it one of the richest regions in the world at this time, as evidenced by the artworks and fragments of the exhibition. Bronze sculptures, indigo fabrics and gold coins are just a few of the valuable items borrowed from Mali, Nigeria and Morocco.
A highlight of the exhibition, a replica of a medieval manuscript called the Catalan Atlas, shows information on Sahara's trade routes, with a picture of Mansa Musa holding a gold coin in his hand. The ruler showed his wealth to the world outside his kingdom when he made his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1
Despite his status during his lifetime, many people have never heard of Mansa Musa today. "Caravans of Gold" aims to combat the modern perception of poor Africa by highlighting for the first time in a major museum exhibition the wealth of medieval West Africa.
Historical narratives and art histories and certainly how Africa is presented in art museums, "said curator Kathleen Bickford Berzock in a statement. "Caravans of Gold" is designed to illuminate Africa's crucial role in world history through the remaining materials. "
" Caravans of Gold "will run until July 21, 2019 at the Block Museum, before traveling to Berlin visit the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC