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

Standing, naked humanoid figure. Figure's left hand is on a tapering, cylindrical-shaped drum. Elongated head with a pointed hat-like covering. Elongated arms and legs. Tubular-shaped upper jaw with pointed teeth. Mask extends from the chest of the figure, held by the figure's right hand. The mask has bulbous eyes and a long, thin nose with a pointed, open mouth at the bottom while the upper portion of the mask is conical. Figure and drum are set on a base.