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HISTORY OF AFRICAN ART IN SOUTHERN AFRICA.

Stone produces lasting quality and exceptional colours, and has been used by the SHONA people for hundreds of years. Some discoveries date back to 1200 AD. Stone is an extremely demanding material to work with, and harder stones produce exceptional work.

The Southern African stone deposits are amongst the oldest in the world and skilled artists today can use the rare stones to create fabulous works of art. Carving hard stones is only possible when the artist has achieved exceptional skills, requiring many years of study and learning.

The combination of the "spirit of the stone" and "the soul of the artists" come together to create some extraordinary examples of original art. Even Pablo Picasso discovered Shona stone art back in the 1960's and displayed this art in a Paris expo.

Today many people in the world are fascinated by the varied presentations of original creative African Art.

In the 20th century sculpture in wood is still very much a living tradition, using traditional carving methods. In Africa, south of the Sahara, wood is the natural material for carving. In the 20th century sculpture in wood is still very much a living tradition. Examples from the 19th century have been preserved in reasonable number, largely by the efforts of collectors. But earlier work has crumbled irretrievably, eaten by ants or rotted by damp.

It is difficult to imagine how African tribal sculptors have viewed their own work, but they have certainly not seen it as art in the self-conscious western manner of recent centuries.

Tribal carving is done for a clear and practical purpose. A figure may represent an ancestor, destined to stand in a place of worship, or everyday objects, figurines, ceremonial objects, sculptures and decorator items.

At BATANAI we have taught wooden carvers how to select and cure their wood before carving. This enhances the quality, and we also keep wooden pieces in storage for up to 4 years to ensure the wood is properly acclimatised.