Stone Sculptures from Zimbabwe

The word Zimbabwe is derived from Dzimba Dza Mabwa which means “House of stone” and this concept is to be found throughout the country wherein huge rocks set the horizon. In addition to these rocks some excellent rocks are found for sculpting. These rocktypes which have some ringing names such as springstone, rapocko, opal and fruitstone are indeed very popular among modern sculptors.  All stones, with some exceptions, are winter hardy and therefore perfect for the garden. Springstone is a marble like black stone. Fruitstone, Cobald and Opal Stone are colorful stones. All our Zimbabwean Sculptures are unique, hand made and bought at the original artists in Zimbabwe by Art of Africa. True Fair Trade!!


Some of the oldest sculptures date back to the time of  `Great Zimbabwe`, a city that dates from 400 to 1450 A.D. and which is to be found on the `World heritage` list by Unesco. It is still a mystery as to why the city had been abandoned.


Frank McEwan arrived in Zimbabwe in 1957 and became president of the National gallery. He reintroduced sculpting in Zimbabwe. Joran Mariga, a student of Frank McEwan, made him aware of `Shona culture`-style sculpting. McEwan inspired the artists to combine their own traditional background with modern styles such as that of Picasso and Matisse.  In the early seventies some of the first international exhibits of Shona sculptures took place in, for exaple,  the `Musee d´Arte Moderne` in Paris and the `Musee Rodin`, where McEwan had been curator. The `Shona art`-movement became world-renowned.
Somewhere around 1960 sculpting was commenced at the tobacco-plantage of Thom Blomefield. The subsequent Tengenenge Sculpture Community became an item in which great artists such as Bernard Matemera and Brighton Sango took part. Other great names that contributed are Henry Munyara, Bernard Takawira and last but not least Nicholas Mukomberanwa.

Modern day art in Zimbabwe took on a more creative form. It is a pillar that provides stability in the harsh environment of this country in which the life-expectancy of woman has declined from 56 years to 34 years, the lowest in the world, as a result of AIDS and poverty.

In 2002 `Art of Africa` opened a workshop in Zimbabwe where poor but highly talented artists are given the opportunity to make stone sculptures. Here food, shelter, transport, materials, tools and even the opportunity to was their clothes are provided. All that is needed from the artists is creativity and happiness.

Shona sculptures, magic with hamer, chisel and rock.

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