Makonde Carving is probably the best known art work produced in East and Central Africa...This art is produced by the Makonde people, a Bantu speaking community who live both north-eastern Mozambique and south-eastern Tanzania.
Their material of choice is African Blackwood, or locally known as 'mpingo'. Their work is both traditional and contemporary, reflecting a tribal past as well as modern response to urban life. They utilize their tribal myths and stories as inspiration for the masterful work; one carver, for instance, specializes in ghost spirits and clouds. Animal statuettes and human and demon-faced ceremonial masks are common. Their view of the world is tripartite consisting of the sky - where the gods live, the spirit world and the human world.

The most prominent sculptures are the 'tree of life' carvings done in Ujamaa style.The works involve intricately carved interlocking human figurines representing unity and continuity. Ujamaa style is inspired by Tanzania's post independence collective social policy.
Other styles include Shetani and Binadam. The former style is a recent development and is more abstract. It models the spirit world of Makonde tradition presented in distorted often grotesque form...

The term Shetani means 'spirit' and encompasses both the good and bad. The world of Shetani is particularly rich source of imagery to draw on for their art.The Binadam carving style is used to represent Makonde men and women pursuing traditional roles; old men smoking pipes, women with calabashes fetching water and so on. The style is largely naturalistic.

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