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In the judgment of James Clifford, “the exotic is now nearby,” but it is equally true that exotic arts are yet to be properly interpreted and understood in the original frameworks of meaning. Considering

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83George Emeka EkwuruAFRICAN TRADITIONAL ARTS AND THE MYSTICAL AESTHETICSOF SYMBOLIC COMMUNICATIONGeorge Emeka EkwuruIntroductionIn the judgment of James Clifford, the exotic is now nearby, but it is equallytrue that exotic arts are yet to be properly interpreted and understood in theoriginal frameworks of meaning. Considering the complex ideologicalcharacteristics of the African traditional worldview and religious traditions, thevarious studies of African traditional arts that embody and mirror suchcomplexities are particularly bound to present notable conceptual difficulties, inevery attempt to understand their basic structures of meaning. In other words,every attempt made to interpret the traditional artistic forms and symbols outsidetheir original situations of meaning create certain hermeneutic difficulties. Thus,attempts made by certain scholars to de-contextualize and confer on Africantraditional arts the forms of universal symbolic language met with various kindsof hermeneutic difficulties. For instance, the recognition that most of thesymbolic features in African traditional art are context-bound and the fact that inthe arrangement of forms the ideology controls technique make a rathersuperficial interpretation of their symbolic forms highly inadequate. Thus,acknowledging this essential problem in the interpretation of African traditionalarts, Meauze declares conclusively:We shall have to wait for the various trends in the analysis of a

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