Ukama Gallery is pleased to present special finds for our collectors.
The Makonde people of Tanzania and Mozambique are well known around the world as master carvers. Shetani woodcarvings are expressions of Makonde mythology and spirits. The forms have the appearance of otherworldly physical traits, like large, distorted facial or body features, and sometimes of animals to signify the spiritual realm.
The essence of Shetani is thought to take five forms: human, mammal, fish, bird, and reptile. In some sculptures, there are also culturally significant symbols, like a mother's breasts or calabashes, used to carry water. Each Shatani is thought to have specific powers and a different purpose and can be defined as representing the realm of spirits and using "sympathetic magic" to influence supernatural beings.
Very surreal and dreamlike, the Shetani are carved from a dense grained African blackwood or ebony called mpingo. Acquired over a lifetime of adventure, these rare carvings were part of a 20,000-plus collection of artwork from Africa belonging to Englishman, Eric Balson, the first game warden of Tanzania's Serengeti Game Reserve during the 1970's.