Shona Sculpture

Sculpture from Zimbabwe

You may not off heard of Shona Sculpture before but as you browse this website and others, you’ll be shown a really wonderful set of forms, made from stone. Available in different sizes and very affordable.

Shona Sculpture, which has it’s roots in Africa, looks fantastic in any setting. Pieces range from small to very large. And although made from stone, come in a surprising variety of natural colours.

They look regal, as a centerpiece or blend in naturally amongst the foliage in a garden.

Shona Sculpture is very varied in subject matter. Which is great because that means there are shapes and styles to please everyone. In fact sometimes it’s hard to stay focused and restrict yourself to one piece. As there are so many and they are so beautiful and majestic.

The most attractive element regarding these sculptures is their tradition. The artists mainly from Zimbabwe, draw their inspiration from their rich African culture. From the myths, folklore, rituals and from ancestral spirits.

Themes and Elements in Shona Sculpture

The main subject areas tend to be women, nude torsos, family groupings (mother and child are a very common theme). Wild animals, animals which represent the spirits and feature in Shona folklore are also commonly found. In a similar way abstract shapes and forms are used to depict the wind spirit and forces of nature or deeper emotions, such as love, friendship, loyalty. And just abstract compositions of intertwining elements, that look like they are modeled from soft clay but were actually chiseled from hard stone. The choice is incredible and truly amazing.

The artists are incredibly well trained in their craft. And there’s a tradition in Zimbabwe where young sculptors use more experienced sculptors as mentors. Their stone sculptures are expertly made and finished.

Shona stone sculpture will bring that spirit of Africa into your home and garden. And with then comes the African sun and vibrant colors, that is Africa. There is something ever so wonderful about these sculptures which touches our human spirit in an organic way and connects us to a more natural way of life.

Your home, your office, your garden, each will resonate with one of these natural organic forms. We’ve even seen one person place an abstract form in an aquarium, we’re not sure what the fish thought, but it does show the versatility of these sculptures.

More images of shona sculpture can be seen here

Various types of stone are used and Zimbabwe is lucky to have so many different varieties. Which provide different colors and folding, twisting veins of color running through the rocks. In many ways each rock or stone is unique both in its color and structure. So the artist has to bring all his/her skills and artistry to fashion the stone into a work of art.

The sculptor’s skill here is to look at the rough, unfinished bolder, working in harmony with it to produce a piece that the stone helps the artist bring forth. The finished piece reveals itself bit by bit.

It’s said that every animal, plant, rock, in fact everything has a soul. The artist’s job is to show us this soul. Just like a fruit that has to be peeled to reveal its goodness. In a similar way the sculptor peels back the rock to reveal its inner beauty, it’s inner soul to us.

That’s the wonder of African art, it comes from a place which we in the west left behind many years ago. Back in the eighteenth century out went any old superstitions and beliefs from the middle ages, replaced with the age of reason and scientific endeavor. One of these was the existence of the soul of which it was said that everything possessed and which gives everything its shape, form and purpose. But in the west we lost that connection between the things around us and their natural spirit. Which is why artists, such as Picasso, found African art so compelling and liberating.

Fresh forms and styles

But I digress. Here we present to you some of the beautiful pieces set amongst traditional garden settings so that you can see for yourself what these magnificent pieces can bring to their surroundings..

The stone used for the sculptures are found along the Great Dyke. A natural geological area that stretches north to south in Zimbabwe and it’s a huge resource of natural stonewhich id’s perfect fit these sculptures. This abundance of material has allowed stone sculpture to flourish in Zimbabwe. The rocks have various properties but the most important of these are color and texture.

Some of the cheaper pieces are made from soapstone (a type of ????). Which is softer than many of the good quality stone but easier to work, carve and polish. It’s used a lot for cheaper, tourist pieces and it’s prone to crack, if you not to careful.

Inside the home, you can place small exquisite pieces in a study, studio or library. Places that require calm and inspiration. Bigger pieces can be placed in our nurse the entrance to your home. They make a wonderful focal point and are always a great talking point for visitors.

But where they really look really spectacular is outside in a garden setting. Their natural forms and subject matter look so good amongst natural plants and foliage. Because their made of stone, they don’t need any special treatment to withstand the weather. If fact as the age they blend better and look even better with age.

In Zimbabwe, where most of these sculptures are made, you’ll find many places to buy them. There are even people settling them on street corners. Some of these street hawkers have incredible displays, from small baby hippos (a few inches in size) to huge giraffes (6 feet in height).

However being made of stone, these items are heavy and you wouldn’t want to go to Zimbabwe and arrange creating and shipping back home. But there’s an easier way the links we provide here will get the sculpture, you choose, to you right away You just have to decide which one you like, which is an absorbing journey in itself, but an enjoyable one.

The history of African Shona Sculpture can be found here

To see the latest in Shona Sculpture available right click this link