Art of Eastern Nigeria by Gwilliam I. Jones

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Title: Art of Eastern Nigeria
Author: Gwilliam I. Jones
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication Date: August 31, 1984
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 240
ISBN-10: 0521259274
ISBN-13: 978-0521259279
Language: English


“Art of Eastern Nigeria” by Gwilliam I. Jones is a significant work that explores the rich artistic traditions of Eastern Nigeria. This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the region’s art forms, examining their cultural, historical, and social contexts.

About the Author

Gwilliam I. Jones (1904-1995) was a Welsh photographer and anthropologist renowned for his extensive work on the cultures of Southeastern Nigeria. Born in Cape Colony and raised in Chile and England, Jones studied at Jesus College, Oxford. He served as a District Officer in Nigeria from 1926 to 1946, where he developed a profound interest in the local cultures. His academic career continued at the University of Cambridge, where he became a Lecturer in Social Anthropology and a Fellow of Jesus College. Jones’s work, including his detailed photographic records, has significantly contributed to the understanding and preservation of African art and culture.

Content Summary

Cultural Context: The book examines the diverse artistic expressions found in Eastern Nigeria, highlighting the unique styles and techniques that characterize the region’s art. Jones discusses how these art forms are deeply intertwined with the local customs, beliefs, and social structures.

Historical and Anthropological Insights: Jones provides a historical overview of the development of art in Eastern Nigeria, tracing its evolution from ancient times to the modern era. The book also offers anthropological insights, revealing how art serves as a medium for cultural expression and communication within the communities.

Detailed Descriptions and Illustrations: “Art of Eastern Nigeria” includes detailed descriptions and high-quality illustrations of various art pieces. These visuals help readers appreciate the craftsmanship of the artworks. Jones’s meticulous documentation includes sculptures, masks, textiles, and more.


  • High-Quality Illustrations: The book is richly illustrated with photographs and drawings that bring the art to life.
  • Comprehensive Analysis: Jones provides a thorough analysis of the artistic styles and techniques unique to Eastern Nigeria.
  • Interdisciplinary Approach: The book combines elements of art history, anthropology, and cultural studies to provide a well-rounded perspective.


“Art of Eastern Nigeria” by Gwilliam I. Jones is a valuable and insightful exploration of the region’s artistic traditions. Its comprehensive analysis and high-quality illustrations make it an essential resource for anyone interested in the art and culture of Eastern Nigeria. Despite its high price, the book’s depth of research and visual richness offer significant value to its readers.

Personal Reflection

Reading this book profoundly impacted my understanding of Igbo art. The detailed illustrations and comprehensive analysis provided a new perspective on the cultural significance of these art forms. Compared to other works on African art, Jones’s book stands out for its interdisciplinary approach and the depth of its research. While many books focus solely on the visual aspects, Jones integrates historical and anthropological insights, offering a more holistic view.

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆ (4/5) – A must-read for anyone interested in African art and culture, though the high price may be a drawback for some.

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