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Makonde art

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Title: Makonde art  
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Subject: Makonde chess set, Shetani, African art, Tanzania
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Makonde art

Makonde art is the art of the Makonde people.

Makonde art can be subdivided into different areas. The Makonde traditionally carve household objects, figures and masks. After the 1930s, the Portuguese colonizers and other missionaries arrived at the George Lilanga.

The ex libris of ritual Makonde art are the unique Mapiko masks (singular: Lipiko), which have been used in coming-of-age rituals since before contact was made with missionaries in the 19th century. These masks are painstakingly carved from a single block of light wood (usually 'sumaumeira brava') and may represent spirits ('shetani'), ancestors, or living characters (real or idealized). The dancer wears them so that he sees through the mask's mouth and the mask faces straight when he bends forward. Examples of such masks are provided in the second row of pictures below.

See also


  • Zachary Kingdon: A Host of Devils: The History and Context of the Making of Makonde Spirit Sculpture (2002)
  • Jorn Korn, Jesper Kirknaes: Modern Makonde Art (1974)
  • Mohl, M.: Masterpieces of the Makonde (1990)
  • Stout, J.A.: Modern Makonde Sculpture (1966)

External links

  • More information about Makonde Art see:
    • Hamburg Mawingu Collection
    • Read about contemporary Makonde artists on AFRUM
  • PhD Thesis concerning Makonde carvers:
    • "Carving a Life: The Political Economy of Woodcarver Livelihoods in Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique"
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