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 limbed human figure of a male with a smiling face. Large elongated human head is parallel to the base. Has a swan-like neck. Hair lines are accentuated with incising. Incising on the forehead consists of three central upward pointing simple arrow shapes with a vertical line that has diagonal lines along the inner edge at either side. Incising at the upper portion at either side of the head consists of three upward pointing simple arrow shapes with a pair of vertical lines that have diagonal lines along the outer edge at either side. The eyes are bulbous crescent shapes. The nose is large and wide. There is a horizontal zig zag line incised across the upper part of the open mouth that shows sixteen plain teeth. Two back legs have feet flat on the base. Shorter front appendage emerges from the neck with finger-like ends touching the base; knuckles quite pronounced. Three limbs are flexed.