Ebony Sculptures - Tanzania

The Makonde people in Tanzania are originally from Mozambique.  Modern Makonde art in Tanzania began in response to the struggle for liberation and interest in the art from the West.

Our collection includes two styles: Ujamaa and Shetani.  Ujamaa is the African concept of families supporting each other. This art form depicts people doing daily activities in a tower shape. Shetani reflect an incomplete being and is depicted in an abstract form.

Modern Makonde sculptures differ from traditional Makonde art:  they do not represent objects of worship.

About the wood

The Mpingo tree grows in Tanzania and Mozambique and takes 70 years to mature. It is at risk due to indiscriminate harvesting.  A ban on export of raw logs exists but this does not stop illegal trafficking.  The villagers also use the tree as animal fodder, medicine, dye and green manure.  The greatest remaining forests of Mpingo are in southern Tanzania, the land where the Makonde settled.

The wood used by our carvers and artists is sourced legally with permits.

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