Makonde Hand Carved Madonna Virgin Mary Wooden Statue
Makonde Hand Carved Madonna Virgin Mary Wooden Statue.
The southern Makonde, the majority of whom are Catholic, hail from Mozambique’s Mueda Plateau. The Makonde resisted being sold as slaves, and it took the colonial Portuguese until the 1920s to finally subdue them. Since then, the Makonde have gradually stopped using their traditional methods, including scarification, lip plugs for both men and women, and facial tattoos. The Makonde are best known for their “Ujamaa” clusters of joined figures. Wood carving evolved away from the traditional crafting of ritual figures, masks, and various household items and utilitarian items like sandals, and toward more modern fare like crucifixes, Madonnas, and the genre of tourist souvenir carving.
Makonde sculptors began experimenting with carving African blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) and jackalberry in response to the apparent European taste for carvings made of ebony (Diosyros dendo, which exclusively grows in West Africa) (Diospyros mespiliformis). The last two species of wood are fragile and challenging to carve, therefore Makonde artisans haven’t employed them yet. Despite being carved in the naturalistic Binadamu style of Makonde blackwood carving, the Madonna in this instance is made of pau-rosa, which is less brittle than blackwood, durable, and good at holding detail. The current piece has a rich patina and has been handled with care.
The measurements are 16 inches tall by 4.5 inches wide.