Modeling - Head, Falasha Artist, Axum Ethiopia | Artopia


A Closer Look

You might wonder what this man is thinking. His expression is ambiguous. Does he seems sad, worried, or do his lips indicate some sort of pleasurable thought? Only the artist knows for sure. Adding to the ambiguity, this portrait is out of proportion. On a human head the eyes are in the middle of the face and the nose is closer to the eyes. Use a modeling material to create a bust of someone. See what effect making the facial features out of proportion has on the outcome of your bust.

About the Scultpure

This sculpture of a head comes from Axum, the most ancient city in Ethiopia, located on the Red Sea. Because of its location Axum was an important port and center of trade. The most famous artworks in the city are 119 towers, called stelae. They are made of granite and they mark gravesites. The largest Axumite stela is over 100 feet long. This small head, only 4-1/2 inches high, might have been buried with an important person. It is made of terracotta, a hard, semifired waterproof ceramic clay. Women make most clay sculptures in Africa.

About the Artist

We do not know the name of the artist who made this artwork, but we do know about the Falasha people, who lived in Ethiopia and practiced the Jewish faith. For centuries they were persecuted for their religious beliefs. In 1975 Israeli Rabbis declared that the Falashas were Jews, and from 1980 to 1992 some 45,000 Falasha emigrated to Israel.


Write About It

  • Make a list of what you see.
  • How did the artist use the elements and principles of design?
  • What do you think the sculpture means? How does it make you feel?
  • Select two sculptures to compare & contrast.