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

Nude of an incised human figure standing upright with a long cone-like drum in front which reaches to the waist of the figure. Drum has a series of seven small knobs projecting from its sides about 2.5 cm. from the top. Figure is slightly bent over the drum with the knees bent and the feet flat on the base while the hands rest on the drum surface. Two digits on each hand and foot. Pair of female breasts are where the face should be and behind these breasts and over the shoulder on the right, there is an open mouth with two rows of spike-like teeth. Heavy lidded oval eyes and a large nose rests on the figure's back and adjoin to the left of the open mouth. Knob on top of head. Hairline crack in wrist on right; on left of base small chip.