No matter how deeply entrenched the standards of Western aesthetics are, they should be set aside by African societies with the purpose of their artworks in mind. Just as art movements in Europe and Asia share certain distinctive features, art on the African continent encompasses a variety of cultures, each with its own range of craftsmanship, religion, social and cultural practices, available materials and practices.
Therefore, caution and humility are required when viewing African classical art. The provenance of an item is reassuring, but not the only criterion of value.
First, the appearance of the sculpture should be checked. A number of factors may point to a particular region of Africa, or even a particular society: the techniques used to work metal (in some cases) and wood (usually), and the nature of the latter, if one can determine; whether or not objects are painted Paint or oil; either rust or sharp edges. Research and attribution can also be guided by how the body is modeled. For each cultural region, specific groups can be identified through unique styles. Hence the need to look carefully; should this work be naturalistic? Are there prominent geometric lines? Are body parts particularly stylized and thus potentially highly symbolic?