Saturday, December 11, 2010

Makonde Carving

The Makonde are the most accomplished carvers in Eastern Africa, living in modern day Mozambique and Tanzania, producing helmet masks in a highly naturalistic manner. 
Although this carved wood mask with the face in coloured ochre, blue pigment for the beret and the use of human hair is likely to be a unique model of a French sailor, it is still sculpted in the traditional style.
Circa 1920, Height: 23.5cm (9") 


  1. Hello,
    Just to let you know that, in my opinion and according to Mozambique colonial history, the model is rather portuguese (soldier, sailor or whatever)... Even if we can describe that type of beret as "béret basque"...
    French sailors have a red "bowl" on their berets' top for a very long time, while portuguese berets have not.
    Very nice example of Makonde delicate carving and soft caricatural style anyway! Thanks a lot!
    Thierry (Belgium)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Thierry.
    The term "béret Basque" is used as the generic term, to differntiate between the civilian (with txortena) and military (without txortena) beret.
    I was not aware of the specifics of the Portuguese berets - thanks, I'll ook into that further.