Station: [4] When Cultures and Religions Meet

A dialogue between different faiths is possible everywhere. That’s the message conveyed by this small wood carving from West Africa. A Christian woman and a Muslim man –a married couple – sit facing each other with knees touching, engrossed in conversation. 

It’s a conversation literally taking place "at eye level", in which a book – the Bible – is the link between the two. Christianity, Islam and the original traditional, or culture-forming, religions ... the African continent has plenty of religious diversity! And contemporary Christian artists from Africa are attempting to create a synthesis, merging their own cultures with European Christian motifs and elements.

Take the example of traditional Ashanti stools – the chairs used by chiefs – which incorporate the Bible, Christian crosses, or people at prayer. The respected and high-ranking owners of the chairs sit on the Bible ... and thus express their basic Christian outlook.

Despite all the violence and dislocation caused by colonialism, Christianity has become an integral part of West African cultures. The objects in our display case are from a private collection owned by Waltraud and Rudolf Mack, both of them theologians. They spent many years of their lives in West Africa, mainly in Ghana, where they gained genuine insights into traditional cultures. In 2005, after they returned to Germany and Professor Mack retired from teaching theology, they donated their collection to the Bible Gallery.

All depictions: © Bibelgalerie Meersburg