There has been resurgence in the popularity of African art, especially when it comes to wood carvings and traditional African works of art. When most people envision African art, they are quite often thinking about the beautiful hand carvings created by the Makonde of Tanzania and Mozambique.
About the Makonde People
The Makonde people are renowned for their creativity. Living primarily in Tanzania and Mozambique, there are approximately 1.2 million Makonde people in Africa. By trade, the Makonde are farmers, hunters, and some are blacksmiths. But what they are really known for are their skilled carvers, who have established a significant presence in the art community continuing to increase in popularity with collectors around the world.
The Makonde are widely known for wood carvings. While the Makonde traditionally create household objects and figures, masks are the art form most widely known. Commonly, Makonde masks represent both animal and human characters representing the traditions and myths of their culture.
The majority of Makonde carvers use African Blackwood, known locally as mpingo. This lustrous, high quality hardwood allows artisans to carve intricate detail.
Many Makonde artisans achieve a more natural look by incorporating the use of beeswax and even human hair to accentuate patterns. The representation of traditional myths in the carvings bring them to life.
Many of the carvings are derived from the myth of the native Shetani, a spirit. Shetani is a word used to describe creatures that are difficult to identify. The Shetani can take on many forms, and it is this diversity of form which is reflected in the carvings. Shetani are commonly represented as a person, an animal form, spirit, or (quite often) in an abstract manner.
Check out the picture of an Abstract Makonde Shetani. This abstract carving depicts the Shetani in a manner commonly featured in Makonde-style carvings. Made of African Blackwood, it depicts a laughing Shetani with all the traditional elements brought to life in abstract form.
The beauty of Makonde carvings similar to this is that they can be used and displayed in such a wide variety of settings. Art collectors are attracted to their beautiful design and unique qualities. They are also popular with home and business owners who are looking to create a distinctive look or change the atmosphere in a room. We guarantee they are conversation starters!
Makonde artisans have refined their skills over many generations and continue to create unique and highly desirable pieces today. The detail, unusual visual appeal and the abstract nature of the carvings attracts a diverse group of African art lovers from around the world.
Bring Africa Home with a stunning piece of living history from the Makonde People of Tanzania and Mozambique.
You might also find our blog article 7 Signs You Should Invest in Makonde Art interesting.