The Bazaruto Archipelago is a region in Mozambique consisting of a group of six islands, just off the mainland coast of Southeast Africa.
A Portuguese colony for decades, today it is designated as a marine national park, attracting many visitors. The region is also well known for its rich artistic culture. The artisans from the Bazaruto Archipelago of Mozambique have become well known in international art circles.
The Makonde people have a large impact on the art that comes out of the Bazaruto Archipelago.
The area is also influenced by Shona and other indigenous groups. Makonde influences take many forms such as painting, pottery, fabrics, and jewelry created using shells and beads, many of which have an aquatic theme because of the island culture. Wood drums and woodwind instruments are crafted using animal skins.
The artisans from the Bazaruto Archipelago are more widely known for their wood carvings and unique masks.
Used as part of cultural rituals and dances, there are two types of wood carvings:
- Shetani: A cultural spiritual character that can take on many forms. Commonly carved using ebony to create symbols, faces, and masks.
- Ujamaa: These are totem style carvings, and they commonly represent human faces and other figures. They are often referred to as family trees because they feature multiple family members and are said to tell the story of multiple generations.
While the art in this region used to symbolize the oppression of the people by colonization, current day creations are more contemporary although still artistically rooted in traditional culture.
People are drawn to the work of artisans from the Bazaruto Archipelago because of the fine detail, unique qualities and mystery so masterfully represented. Each piece has such eye catching detail; and since it is deeply rooted in cultural history, it conveys the fascinating heritage of the Makonde people.
Choose a unique piece from the Bazaruto Archipelago of Mozambique to decorate your personal space – office or home!
You might also enjoy our blog article, Enter The World of The Makonde Shetani.