Carving

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

Carving consisting of two parts that are connected by five appendages: a humanoid head with bulging eyes rests on the base, two appendages from each side of the head coalesce into a headless body standing above it, the appendage on the left merges with an arm of the body and the appendage on the right with the leg on the right of the body. A long vertical appendage ending in a foot (?) above the figure's right shoulder and an arm, connected to the body's waist on the right, are inserted into the mouth of the head. From the shoulder on the figure's left, an arm-like appendage rests on the long vertical appendage.