Fine and Applied Art Project Topics

An Examination of Traditional Mural Art of the Obingwa

An Examination of Traditional Mural Art of the Obingwa

An Examination of Traditional Mural Art of the Obingwa

Chapter One

Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of this research is to examine the traditional mural art of Obingwa, while the objectives are to:

  1. identify the mural artists, materials and motifs used in the murals.
  2. highlight the process of creating the murals.
  3. enumerate the functions of traditional mural art among the Obingwa
  4. ascertain the present state of mural art of the Obingwa




Mural art as a tradition was done for centuries in the world including Africa, before the Neolithic period into the advent of Christianity and Islam, as well as Western imperialism and colonization. The art form part of the traditional architecture and serve aesthetic, religious, curative and informative purposes in many regions including Africa in which the mural art of Obingwais part of. Though with minor differences regarding styles and processes employed by different ethnic groups and geographical entities, these mural traditions across the world, Africa and Nigeria share many similarities in areas of the mural artist, art materials, motifs, and functions.

This study is on the surveyof traditional mural art of the Obingwa in Abia State. The incorporation of some scholarly views, positions, arguments and analysis into this study give a good understanding on the subject matter.In view of this, the chapter reviews the literature relating to “A survey of Traditional Mural Art of the Obingwa”. The review is however concerned with the origin of mural art,mural artist, mural art materials, motifs used in murals, functions of murals and contemporary mural art.

Origin of Mural Art in Europe

Mural art is among the first forms of art practiced by mankind. By 35,000BCE, the activities of early humans had given rise to a culture known as Paleolithic. They fashioned bone and stone tools and began to produce artifacts and decorated walls (Boyd and Silk, 2003).

During the period, human was able to artistically represent animals, humans and some social activities on the walls of their habitations. Kleiner (2011)states that “figurative paintings and engravings were executed about 30,000 BCE on the walls and ceilings of caves, where early humans used as shelters”. According to Curtis (2006), the earliest discovery of paintings within the precints of a cave was in Altamira, Spain in the year 1879 by an archeologist, Don Marcelino Sanzde Sautola and his daughter, Maria. The work was a painting of a bison on the ceiling of the cave as shown in figure I.





This chapter outlines the methods and procedures the researcher used in collecting and utilizing relevant data for the research on “An Examination of Traditional Mural Art of the Obingwa”. The qualitative research method is used in this study. This chapter therefore covers the research design, research population, sources for data collection and procedure used for data analysis.

Research Design

Research design is a systematic blue print that specifies how data of a given investigative problem should be collected and analyzed. Creswell (2012) states that research design is an organized outline for the conduct of any given investigation. Ethnographic approach of qualitative research is used as a design for this study. Ethnography as a design is the study of a group of people or community in relation to their culture and tradition which includes the arts and linguistic identities, in the same vein, “qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in various academic disciplines, mostly in the social sciences and humanities. It studies things in their natural setting, attempting to make sense of or to interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people attach to them” (Dezin, Lincoln, 2000).

Ethnographic approach was used by Sobers (2010) in a cultural study of a people including their arts. This approach aided the researcher in investigating and examining the beliefs, culture, philosophies, attitudes, practices and functionality concerning the Traditional Mural Art of Obingwa.

Research Population/Sample

Research population refers to the entire group of persons, objects or events whose characteristics are being studied within the researcher’s area of study. Obingwa has a population of 295,680 (United Nations Population Fund, 2014). The population of this study covers the various compounds where the architecture bearing the traditional murals are situated across the LocalGovernment Area, together with the occupants and attendants of such buildings and ancestral shrines with murals. The women who are the traditional mural artists are also part of the population, as well as the elders and traditional rulers of selected communities who are custodians of the traditions and culture of the people.

The sample for the study is systematically gotten from this population. Sample is a smaller group of elements which are drawn through a definite procedure, representing only a portion of the population. Purposive sampling is employed in selecting the buildings, compounds, shrines, artists, elders and traditional rulers within Obingwa. Purposive sampling is used primarily when there is a limited number of people that have expertise, or when objects and situations are limited in the area being researched. Oliver (2010) describes purposive sampling as a form of non-probability sampling in which decisions concerning the individuals or objects to be included in the sample are taken by the researcher, based upon a variety of criteria which may include specialist knowledge of the research issue or capacity and willingness to participate in the research.

Purposive sampling is employed due to the fact that the traditional mural paintings are not located in all the communities of the area. The limited number of the traditional murals and mural artists is attributed to lack of patronage, occasioned by the popular choice of modem media and styles of mural decoration in recent times. As a result, thirteen (13) buildings which include out door traditional murals were purposively selected among the 14 wards of the Local Government Area namely Abayi I, Abayi II, Mgboko Umuanunu, Mgboko Itungwa, Ahiaba, Mgboko Amairi, Alaukwu Ohanze, Akumaimo, Ndiakata Amairinabuo, Ntighauzo Amairi, Ibeme, Akpa Mbato, Itukpa and Mgboko Umuanunu II. Apart from the buildings, twenty three occupants and attendants of such buildings as well as three mural artists, eleven elders and seven teen traditional rulers within the communities of the selected architecture are also part of the sample.




This chapter contains the analysis of information obtained from the field work on “A n Examinationof Traditional Mural Art of the Obingwa”. Firstly, the information are classified into three categories:i. interior murals, ii. exterior murals and iii. out-door murals. Interior murals are those executed on the walls or ceilings of rooms or inner apartments of a particular building. Exterior murals on the other hand are created on outside walls, ceilings and fence of a building or compound; while out-door murals are created on objects which are not enclosed within a given architectural piece, rather in the open where there is no shield against rain or sun. Secondly, the analysis is also concerned with the mural artist, materials, motifs, processes of execution,functions of the murals and the present state of Obingwa murals.




This chapter contains the summary of chapters one to four of this study. The conclusionis briefly highlighted as well as the recommendation.


The mural art of the Obingwa is an old tradition that has been handed over from one general to the other. The art has many functions which include religious worship and curing of ailments.The mural artists are mostly women who paint with earth and plant colours sourced from immediate environments, while a few men are wall relief artists with the use of mud, clay and cement. The motifs are influenced by belief system, mythology, religion and culture and are dominated by stylized objects and geometric patterns. The art tradition is almost at its extinction stage due to influence of modernization, globalization and Christianity.


The objectives of this research “An Examination of Traditional Mural Art of the Obingwa” has been achieved. The mural tradition in Obingwa is ascertained as old as the period of initial migrants settlement in the area, about one thousand years ago. It has remained partof the belief system, religion, communication and mythology of Obingwa society and has also been handed over from one generation to the other. The traditional mural artist is identified as a creator whose creations are so important for the continuous existence of culture and tradition. The artistic style of Obingwa mural has stylizations and bold outline without repeated patterns and background colours which are not common in other mural traditions like “Uli” of Owerri Igbo, Northern Igbo land, Yoruba and Ndebele mural traditions.

Similarly, the functions of the murals have opened new dimensions in understanding the unique continuation of the intents of the prehistoric cave painters especially in religious worship, communication, curing of ailments, education and aesthetic. It is the opinion of the researcher that this study should be useful to researchers who may wish to go into more research studies about Obingwa murals and other forms of art within the area. It could also be a guide to studio artists who may be interested in drawing inspirations from the motifs derived from the traditional mural art of Obingwa.


  1. The people of Obingwa through their communal assemblies (amala), elders and traditional rulers should pass a resolution on cultural revival and involve the existing Christian missions in the campaign for the survival of traditional arts. This could allow the mural traditions to functionsimultaneously with Christian
  2. The mural artists should endeavor to cultivate and rear within their respective homes,various plants through which the painting colours are extracted. This would make the materials to be at their disposal always, especially when the farmers clear the distant bush and cut the plants in preparation for a new farming
  3. Indigene of Obingwa should be educated on the importance of preserving culturalheritage and traditions of their society through mass media, art historians and socio- cultural organizations of various communities in Obingwa.
  4. Further studies are encouraged in other aspects of art of the Obingwa that are on their way to extinction. These include sculpture, music and dance.


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