Wounded artefacts

Repair work in Africa

Repairing, re-stitching, reinforcing, sealing… Wounded Artefacts tackles the unexplored theme of local repair work by native peoples. This publication offers a new approach to African objects, and presents 120 ‘wounded artefacts’ selected from the 500 repaired artefacts in the Quai Branly Museum. The catalogue offers many different points of view because each culture attributes a different form and meaning to the act of repairing ritual or common artefacts.

But it also examines the poetic nature of this repair work. Through this almost mystical extension of life and power that the hand of man confers upon the artefact, the latter seems to rise above its own ephemeral nature.  Furthermore, the repair work is a sign of authenticity, to such an extent that that it can even be falsified.

The first part casts light on the meaning of the term réparation, in French and in a number of African languages. Next, the differences between repair work and restoration are explored. This part ends with an ethnological reflection that places the act of reparation within the complex life of the artefact.

The second part explores the meaning of reparation with regard to the three main religions that are present in the continent: animism, Islam and Christianity.

The third part addresses the question of reparation in a more analytical manner, with regard to three different cultures: Maghreb, Dogon, and Gabon.

Finally, the last contribution shows how important the concepts of separation and reparation are in contemporary Western art.


96 pages in 20 cm x 26 cm format 
58 colour illustrations
price : 25 €
Isbn 978-2 915-133-48-6 / 978-88-7439-380-0

 A co-publication by the musée du quai Branly/5 Continents

exhibition curator

Gaetano Speranza, Ethnology association, University of Paris X-Nanterre.


Hana Chidiac, Michèle Dejean, Marie-Claude Dupré, Éric Jolly, Kadidia Kane Devautour, Salia Malé, Françoise Monnin, Louis Perrois, Albert Rouet, and Paulette Roulon-Doko

More information

Click here to discover the exposition.