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.

Iconographic meaning

Female fertility is a common theme in Makonde myths.

Physical description

Figure of a woman standing on her head connected in a sexual act to a male figure standing upright above her. The male humanoid figure is characterized by a bird-like head turned over the right shoulder and has two claws on each hand and foot. His feet are clasped to the female figure's legs and his left hand clasps onto her right foot. Appendages of both figures are long and thin and cover one-third of the total figure. The texture is smooth except for the genitalia which are gouged. Carved on a base.