About this object

History of use

The Makonde were a matriarchal, agricultural society. Traditionally, it is thought, the sculpture of the Makonde was restricted to ceremonial and ritual goods. Shetani spirits or creatures, now seen in contemporary Makonde sculpture, were probably unknown before the advent of commercial art production in the mid-1950's. Tales of encounters with these rarely seen spirits or creatures were part of Makonde mythology and folklore and may have served as artistic inspiration for the pieces.

Cultural context

Commercial art.

Physical description

Flattened, elongated face. Side on the left combines with an elongated nose which flows into a bulbous form at the base, a deep groove of which resembles a mouth. Side on the right flows into an arm-like limb which ends in a three-fingered hand at the base. Extending backwards from the limb on the right, there is a flattened, vertical, sack-like projection which turns back on itself and gradually tapers to a two-fingered hand or tail. Small knob on top of the head. On a lighter-coloured wood base.