Makonde Figure Group Carving
Medium:African Blackwood carving
Height: 23 in
Width: 10 in
Depth: 8 in
Multiple figures carved into a single piece of wood.
The Makonde peoples originated from the north easter corner of Mozambique but many have since migrated into southern Tanzania. Traditional Makonde carving served ritual purposes and goes back to their creation myth. In this creation story, man carves a female figure from a tree and when he leaves it standing upright overnight, she comes to life. Makonde men would carve female figures that would be kept in their huts and worshipped as deified female ancestors. Group sculptures similar to this one possibly portray grieving families, generations of a family with an ancestor, or simply a family grouped together. Modern Makonde carving is typically is produced from dense African Blackwood allowing for intricate, highly detailed carvings with a fine finish. The work of the Makonde people reflects both the traditional, tribal past and the response to modern, urban life.