Figure

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

Elongated human head with a human figure of equal size sitting astride and incorporated into the top of the head. Leg of the top figure becomes the nose of the face below. Top figure has natural eyes, a nose, a mouth, accentuated cheeks, and a high forehead with long hair flowing back to the figure's left side. Arms of the top figure extend downward around the eyes of the face below. Face below has natural eyes, a large nose, a protruding mouth, and a pointed chin.