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

Figure with an elongated head and the chin on the base. Horn-like appendage on the left side of the head with a large open oval eye at the base of the horn. A smaller oval eye is on the right side of the head. Open mouth has protruding teeth. Wide torso extends upward from above the eye on the right; it narrows and curves downward into a flat blade-like form where the tip of the blade rests on the base. Long narrow appendage on the right points downward, bends horizontal to base and ends in the mouth of the figure. Leg-like appendage on the left bends at the knee and has a three toed foot on the base.