Shona Sculpture

Shona sculpture is the name given to a modern movement of stone carved sculpture created in Zimbabwe. It gets its name from the ‘Shona’ tribe of people (actually a mixture of many similar tribes with closely related language and culture) who are the largest in Zimbabwe. The country itself gets its name thanks to the Shona people’s long artisanal tradition of stone working, meaning “house of stone”. The majority of stones used in Zimbabwean sculpture are locally sourced and belong to the geological family Serpentinite. They are sedimentary, having originally been laid down on a sandy seafloor, and metamorphic, since subsequent exposure to intense heat and pressure over hundreds of millions of years has transformed them into hard stone. Serpentines are rich in iron, so when the stone weathers it turns a rust colour. In Zimbabwe, they occur as part of the Great Dyke, a horseshoe-shaped geological formation stretching through the north and east round to the centre of the country. The natural weathering processes are now exposing the rocks at the surface. Colours range from yellow and green, through brown to black. Serious sculptors prefer the hardest varieties of serpentine such as springstone, fruit serpentine and leopard rock. These dense stones have extremely fine grains and uniform structure, making them ideal raw materials for sculpting
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