chapter  6
Beauty and captivation
Fuyuge gab and Gell’s anthropological theory of art
ByEric Hirsch
Pages 16

When Father Paul Fastre drafted his Notes on the manners and customs of the Fuyuge he devoted a section to what he calls "Secrets or principles of beauty" or "The art of becoming beautiful". This chapter analyses the relations between beauty and captivation in Fuyuge gab by drawing on Alfred Gell's anthropological theory of art. Gell discusses captivation as the primordial kind of artistic agency. He refers to artefacts that appear to originate through some kind of 'magical' occurrence, or the "spectacle of unimaginable virtuosity". The sexual captivation created in Fuyuge dance is not 'artistic', but the magically influenced dancers and their adornments have an artistic quality and it is this that captivates the women. Gell seems to acknowledge the importance of beauty in his theory of art; not as an analytical category but as an intrinsic feature of the experience of artworks.