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

Kneeling figure with the knee on the left on the base. Has a human torso, arms, hands, and feet. Hand on the right is on the matching thigh while hand on the left is on the matching groin. Single breast-like projection on the right side of the torso. Rising on the left side of the torso, an animal head appears to be biting the neck of a second, bird-like, head rising up on the right of the torso. Turning, projecting downwards, a third, animal-like, head emerges from the bird-like head. Long tongue on first animal-like head. Light wood patch on inner arm on the right.