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

Figure consisting of two intertwined figures, the larger with domed eyes, a slightly protruding nose, a pointed mouth, one arm and one leg, its left arm holding the tail of the second figure, which curls behind the head of the larger figure. The second figure is serpentine with a long animal head, one leg, and large teeth that are biting the back of the frog-like figure. Both figures are standing on an irregularly shaped base.