Makonde Sculpture or Makonde Art: Tradition and modernity I

Em 1988 o Museu Nacional de Arte de Maputo e o Ministério da Cultura de Moçambique promovem um inventário da escultura Maconde, com o objetivo de promover uma exposição em Paris.

Com textos de Paulo Soares,  e fotografias de João costa e José Cabral, a exposição será feita em 1989 em Paris, e dela será editada o catalogo ” novosrumosesculturamakondeArt Makonde: tradition et modernité.”

[Paris]: Ministère des affaires etrangères, Secretariat d’état aux relations culturelles internationales, Association française d’action artistique; Ministère de la coopération et du développement, [1989]. 209pp. illus. (pt. color), bibliog.

Text in French and Portuguese.

NB1097.6.M6A78 1989 AFA. OCLC 20964411.

Makonde sculpture, old and modern, represents an artistic tradition which evolved in response to the historical and economic forces affecting the Makonde people throughout the twentieth century, especially after the 1930s. It is a story which unfolds in reverse chronology from the contemporary internationally known modern Makonde sculpture to its historical and cultural antecedents about which less has been written or is known.

This exhibition in Paris embraces all aspects of the Makonde story. Of the six individual essays, one deals specifically with modern Makonde sculpture: that by Elisabeth Grohs, “Art Makonde contemporain = Arte Makonde contemporânea,” (pp. 144-157).

Grohs avers that the evolution of what we recognize as modern Makonde sculpture dates to the 1930s when the first exhibition was held at Centro Cultural dos Novos in Mozambique. However, it was in Tanzania, where many Mozambique Makonde had emigrated in search for work, that interest in their sculpture as a commodity arose. The Indian merchant Peera was instrumental in encouraging this development. Using the hard wood mpingo (Dalbergia Melanoxylon), Manguli Istiwawo, Pajume Allale, Roberto Jacobs, and others carved in what has become known as the “tree of life” orujamaa style. The “shetani” style originated with Samaki, but was quickly imitated and soon became a popular and successful commodity in the markets of Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. Following independence in Mozambique in 1975, official recoginition on the part of the government has further encouraged this modern tradition of sculpture.

The catalog was reviewed

  • by Eric Lehuard and Raoul Lehuard in Arts d’Afrique noire (Arnouville) no. 73: 49-50, printemps 1990.
  • Exhibition reviewed by Myfanwy Van de Velde, “Makondé art, traditional and modern,” Le Courrier (Brussels) no. 119: 94-96, janvier-fèvrier 1990;
  • by Emmanuel De Roux, “Les malentendus de l’art africain,” Le Monde (Paris), November 1, 1989;
  • by Jacques Binet, “Art moderne, art ancien: trois expositions à Paris,” Afrique contemporaine (Paris) no. 153: 82-88, janvier 1990.


Modern African Arte – Hamburg

Hamburg Modern Makond Art

Tanzanian Modern Art