I have a very small African tribal art collection, a few different examples of which are shown below.
I have no expert knowledge of the cultures, belief systems and passions that are expressed through African art. I know only that it is beautiful and compelling.
The photograph on the left is of a contemporary Shona stone sculpture, but it cannot possibly convey the incredible intricacy of the carving or the love that went into its creation.
The Shona are a group of culturally similar Bantu speaking people, living primarily in the Eastern half of Zimbabwe. Their stone carvings date back to the time of the Great Zimbabwe settlement, which was built between the 11th and 15th centuries and is now a World Heritage Site.
Modern Shona sculpture remains steeped in the legend and traditions of an ancient African culture. For the Shona, everything has a 'life spirit,' and this defines what the stone will become in the hands of the sculptor.
I found the wooden carving on the right at an antiques/flea market in Paris many years ago and loved it as soon as I saw it. However, despite a lot of amateur research I am still a little confused by it.
The main styalisation of the representation of the human figure, together with the application of strips of metal, would suggest that it is a Kota carving. It does, however have a 'body,' which other Kota reliquary figures I have seen do not. If you know anything more about this type of carving please get in touch via the 'Contact Page. 'I would love to hear from you.
This little 'cutie' is one of the first pieces of tribal art that I ever bought and (if I had any favourites!) this would definitely be one of them. I had no idea when I bought the carving what it was or where it came from. I believe, from my subsequent research that it is a Yoruba carving.
The Yoruba are one of the largest cultural groups in Africa. The Yoruba people live on the west coast of Africa in Nigeria and the Republics of Benin and Toga. Their art traditions are of the finest quality and of considerable antiquity.
Throughout Yorubuland, carved human figures are essentially naturalistic, except for the eyes which are emphasised and dominate facial expression.