Arts & Craft in Shona Culture

Shona Sculptures
The Shona people of Zimbabwe have been hand sculpting stone into works of art for centuries. Shona sculptures and carvings are beautiful and elegant, contemporary, yet eternal. They come in elaborate shapes and all different sizes that compliment any decor in a home, building or well-manicured landscape. The most common themes portrayed represent the esteemed values in the Shona culture of family, love, life, and nature.

About Serpentine Stone
Zimbabwean sculptors most commonly use serpentine stone to carve their beautiful stone sculptures that have earned worldwide recognition.  Serpentine stone is found in Zimbabwe in a wide range of colours, from black and green to yellows, orange, grey, red, and even purple. The stones exhibit unique patterns that formed in the rock millions of years ago.

History of Shona Sculptures
The Shona started stone carving more than 2000 years ago and stone carvings were probably common during the era of Great Zimbabwe. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1900s, when there was a rise in travel from southern Africa to other continents that the art gained renown by art collectors around the world. The Shona are very religious and spiritual people who believe in ancestral spirits known as Vadzimu.  Many of them believe that they are often visited by their ancestors and families may perform various rituals to pay their respects to those ancestral spirits. Shona sculptures demonstrate and represent the unity between those two worlds, the physical and the spiritual. It is said that they would carve to express both personal and spiritual beliefs.

The talented Shona stone carvers firmly believe that every stone has a life spirit, and it is their job to release the spirit from the stone. These sculptures have their own distinct style. Each one is an original and completely hand carved by an artist. They are not factory made; therefore, each piece is unique and comes at a costly price. The intricate beauty of the handiwork, the complex artistic expression, along with the beauty of the serpentine stone have gained Shona sculptors great renown around the world. Naturally these sculpting skills have been adopted by other African countries, so Shona sculpture is often referred to as Zimbabwe stone sculpture to indicate origin and therefore guarantee authenticity.