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 forms: one bird-like, the other reptilian. Projecting vertically from a rounded horizontal torso, there is a bird-like head with prominent lower teeth and bulbous eyes. Projecting downwards, below the head, there are two limb-like appendages terminating in hand/foot on the base. From the other end of the torso, there are three appendages; one points upward, bends, and grasps in a claw-like foot, the reptilian-like appendage. The reptile flows down to the base and curves up. Its head bites the torso. The third appendage points downward and rests on the reptile's body. The base is smooth and oval in shape.