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

Humaniod figure in a stooping position. Head with prominent eyes and teeth and one very large ear-like appendage. Prominent rib cage on the left of the body. Buttocks and thighs are covered with incised carving, possibly delineating fabric. Two limb-like appendages curve down to the base and back up, the one on the left terminates in a hand-like form at the chest. Limb on the right joins the body at the hip, it expands to a bulb-like joint, continues vertically as tubular shape, then bends to meet the ear, extends behind the ear and ends with the hand grasping another tubular shape which has two hands. One hand is placed on top of the head while the other grasps the bulb-like joint near the hip. Figure rests on small base with prominent chisel marks.