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

Three heads entwined by a headless figure. Top head is roughly shaped with two circular eyes and a large open mouth that has upper and lower teeth. Tubular body extends from the back of the head, loops up to the right, goes through the mouth, curves down, and melds with the back of an elongated head which faces the opposite direction to the first head. Elongated head has oval eyes, a long nose, and an open mouth with upper teeth. Headless figure's back is below the elongated head. Two appendages from the shoulders: appendage on the right curves up to the left, joins the back of the elongated head, curves towards the base, bends, and the hand grasps the appendage from the left shoulder which ends in a head at the base. Head has oval eyes, a nose, and an open mouth with teeth. Foot from the lower appendage on the left ends in a mouth. Lower appendage on the right bends at the knee and ends in an elongated foot pointing towards the left on the bas