This Shona sculpture of an owl was hand carved of black iron serpentine stone by Zimbabwean sculptor Taurai Nyawude. Shona sculpture, now a contemporary art movement that began in the 1950's in what was then Southern Rhodesia, is inspired by a tradition of carving that "releases the spirit" from the stone, reaching back more than 1000 years. These stone carvings are generically called "Shona sculptures," although not all of them are actually by members of the Shona people. The following information was etched by hand by the artist into the stone at the bottom of the back of the sculpture (Highfield is a suburb of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe):
4841 NEW CANAAN
The Great Dyke is a 340 mile long series of hills and ridges that runs just west of Harare that has vast stores of minerals. The majority of the stones used by the sculptors are mined by hand there. To begin, the sculptor does not draw on the stone or even make a drawing. With simple tools like a chisel and sandpaper, the artist follows what is perceived to be the subject embedded in the stone. The sculpture is then heated in a fire and finished with a polish of beeswax, which melts to impart a deep luster in the stone.
This piece stands about 5 1/2 inches at the tallest point, 6 inches across the top and 3 inches front to back, tapering to an oval base 2 1/2 inches wide. Heavy for its size, it weighs 5 pounds 2 ounces and has some interesting color and pattern in the stone. It's in excellent condition, no cracks or chips, with just the scratches that are normal for the natural stone. Shona sculptures are created by people considered to be some of the world's finest sculptors. This beautiful, elegant owl sculpture is a one of a kind, timeless work of art.
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