I sketched these bird shapes from the book African Majesty, The Textile Art of the Ashanti and Ewe.
I have been visiting the reference copy at the Central Library. Now that I have discovered the library catalog on line, I found a lending copy over in deepest darkest SW, where I never go, and had it sent to St Johns, where I go all the time. Isn't it funny how you can live in a city and not ever visit certain parts?
I have spent days poring over this book, drawing the motifs in the cloths and oogling the fabulous color combos.
Putting all the motifs together like that, on a few pages of the giant pad, is really fascinating. The weavers have really sophisticated abstraction going on.
The abstraction is particularly noticeable when you put all the bats with the bats, all the birds with the birds etc, etc, etc (™Yul Brenner in The King and I).
It allows you to see how some of the images got abstracted to the point of pure geometry. I might not have noticed if I was not already thinking about that shape.
A drawing of anything is a symbol of something that exists. Even the most realistic depiction is not the thing itself. I think the ability to see in a shape the abstracted image of something is amazing.