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

Two humanoid figures. Top figure consists of an elongated head and a torso where two elongated limbs emerge from each side and terminate in feet. The limb on the right points upward, the limb on the left terminates at the base. The top figure's torso is attached to the lower figure's pelvic area. The lower figure is bent at the waist with a bird-like head that touches the base. The pelvis is turned at a ninety-degree angle to the left. One leg is bent with the foot in the upper figure's mouth while other leg terminates at the base. A third limb emerges from the shoulder area and terminates in a foot at the base.