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

Two figures, each represented by a torso, arms and elongated, insect-like head. Head of bottom figure has teeth like grooves on one side and one eye on the other; head of upper figure has two eyes and open beak-like mouth with tongue-like protrusion. Lower figure begins and extends upwards from mid-torso; head tilts up; from mouth emerges upper figure. Arms of upper figure extend to base where one "hand" grasps arm of lower figure; opposite hand of lower figure grasps arm of upper figure.