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Nyamwezi Seated Marionette Pivoting Arms Tanzania African Art

Regular Price: $295.00

Special Price: $142.00

Product #: 99658
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Title Nyamwezi Seated Marionette Pivoting Arms on Base Tanzania Africa
Type of Object Carving
Country of Origin Tanzania
People Nyamwezi
Materials Wood, nails, pigment, beads
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions 16.75 inches tall x 6.25 inches wide x 9.25 inches deep
Overall Condition Fair. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use. We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair one leg broken away. severe damage to back of figure repaired with metal sheeting. cracks, dirt, general wear


Additional Information:


A seated figure with distinguishable Nyamwezi eyes with white beads. The arms and leg move freely, secured on nail spindles.   The use and function of this figure are not known. Such figures were probably used in connection with the cult of ancestors.The dark patina is the evidence that the figure was receiving offerings and sacrifices, a practice common in many African ancestor cults. 


It is known that before the invasion of Islam and Christianity traditional Nyamwezi worshiped the ancestors. Today a few groups of  Nyamwezi  become Muslim and some other Christians.The Nyamwezi are the largest ethnic group in central Tanzania where they share close ties with the neighboring Sukuma people.  According to oral traditions they settled in west central Tanzania where they presently live sometime during the 1600s.  Called “people of the moon” by their neighbors in Tanzania The Nyamwezi lived in large settlements and later in a number of kingdoms but today live in small dispersed settlements. The Nyamwezi are known for their carving that is at best not embellished, roughly executed and relatively sparsely described in the literature of East African art. They produce numerous expressive masks, elegant figures and interesting puppets. These carvings represent  nature spirits,  ancestors or prominent local people are used in various ritual ceremonies. 


Recommended Reading: Marc Felix's MWANA HITI.