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Shetani (B)

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Item 587 (B)
10.00 LBS
Calculated at checkout
Maximum Purchase:
1 unit(s)

Product Description

Unfortunately most of the artistic output coming from the country of Tanzania is mass produced and has little of no tribal relevance. Beautiful as it might be the art has been coined as “tourist art”. It is unfortunate indeed because Tanzania is home to a wide variety of people that have a rich history and a deep rooted culture. One significant group are the MaKonde; inhabiting the southeast of Tanzania and the northeast of Mozambique. The pre colonial Makonde lived in dispersed settlements. Each village was composed of a small number of households headed by men belonging to a matrilineal group called likola. The likola was said to derive from a common female ancestor, revered as a life-giver and protector. Shetani is Swahili for 'little devil'. According to the Makonde, shetani are creatures that are neither human nor animal. Visually they presented themselves in combination with the human form as: mammal, fish, bird or reptile. Shetani carvers relied heavily on their imagination and word of mouth descriptions of the Shetani from older carvers, teaches and elders. They also utilized their tribal myths and stories as inspiration for the masterful work. True master carvers excel in creating surprisingly challenging pieces. Sculpturally the pieces were perceived as grotesque figurines that took blackened, dramatic, twists and turns that prayed upon and deformed their human host. It seemed that the artist imagination knew no boundary! The MaKonde believed though that the Shetani could take on the role of malevolent imp or as a positive spiritual force in the life of a villager. The art was in stark contrast to the more acceptable ‘tourist fare’ and was feared and defamed. Shetani sculptures are said to have been introduced to the art world in the early second half of the 20th century. The works became free flowing in the 60’s and 70’s then became scarce in the 80’s. The ebony selection offered here was obtained in 1998. Shetani artwork though varied will contain certain common elements such as a long horn or ear that protrudes from the head, large bulging eyes, a mouth forming a wide sinister grin with a full set of teeth showing; all set within a non human form with a highly caricaturized bodily position. It is our position that Shatani art is is grossly misunderstood and totally under appreciated. One day this too will change!

Please click photo for enlargement!

Dimensions: 21 inches tall x 4 1/2 inches wide and deep.

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