Souvenir Ideas – A matching set an African Chief and his Wife

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Stone Head Sculpture – Art Roundup

African chief head and wife art feature Victoria Falls

Souvenirs from Victoria Falls… will you return home with one?  This feature is on stone head sculptures done by artists – matching sets of an African Chief and his Wife.  If you like learning about culture and people then you will enjoy this read.  Learn about an the Village Tour, an activity that can bring this to life for you.

While in the curio market the other day.  I can across this matching set.  I was stuck with the colour of the stone and the expressions on their faces.  From their eyes you can see that they have experienced life.  The challenges, the good and bad times.  But you also get a glimpse of how this has made them wise and hardy.

Zimbabweans are renown worldwide for their stone carvings, and this is not an easy piece to do.

Only experienced carvers attempt it. Very fine details are worked into the stone; the wrinkles, the hair strands, the lip lines, the headdress – it’s a real skill to communicate expressions and make the faces come alive.

Stone head sculptures in different stone make for unique pieces of art.

Part of the art concept is made more vibrant by the using stone – the colour, tones and finish can make the ordinary, extraordinary.

Zimbabwe has a magnificent range of stone available, for an artist to choose and perfect.  To mention a few –

Many head sculptures are carved in –

  • hard black spring stone
  • coloured serpentine
  • semi-precious Lepidolite a soft lilac coloured stone
  • verdite

contributing it’s own beauty and making each one uniquely special!

A matching set…

The two carvings are usually sold as a pair – who wants to separate them?

And there is great variety in size and stone colour.

The proportions must be just right and when you are doing two statues that will stand side by side, they need to be sized correctly and complement each other.

Truly dedicated artists display a high regard for integrity; they don’t copy another’s artwork outright, rather they develop their own special slant or style, even if it is of the same genre.

Today, work is still done entirely by hand, with a few exceptions. Nowhere do you see detailed drawings or meticulous measuring; when carving – everything is spontaneous and done by eye and feel.  I guess you get the hang of it over time.

On completion, the stone is rubbed with soft rags to make the faces shine and come alive!

This particular set is by Malakhi Mpophu. He lives in the rural areas, but his two sons display his work at the Craft Centre.

african head and his wife matching set - Vic Falls Art
By Victoria Falls Artist Malakhi Mpophu

Lookmore Mawire, did a beautiful headstone of a chief here, note the detail in the head-dress.

A little more about an African Chief

An African Chief plays an important traditional role.

It may seem like we are talking about years ago, but in places surrounding Victoria Falls, Chiefs still preside over areas and make decisions for the people in their territory and assign land for homesteads.

The common term used locally to refer to the homesteads is the Rural Areas.

Here you find homes or settlements that have simple hut structures (or in more modernised areas rough brick homes) that house a complete family, their livestock and their crops.

Rural Village

The homes are a distance from the town, with limited or no utilities.

Water is drawn from the river and hand dug wells.

If a borehole is installed in the area, it is used by everyone, making it a place to water the cattle, fetch drinking water and catch up on the latest news.

Each family head – the oldest man, will make decisions for his family and extended family.

A Chief inherits his power and position from his family line and lives within the community.

He decides who may live in the territory, how much land they will have and other community-related decisions.

He is a highly respected man.

An Activity That Will Bring This all to Life for you is the Village Tour

If you would like to meet a Chief, learn about the people, history and culture in the area, this is something you should put on your to-do-list when you visit Victoria Falls.

African chief head and wife
Chief Head and His Wife

In Conclusion

An African Chief Head and his Wife stone head sculpture would make an awesome souvenir to take home from Victoria Falls.  Add the Village Tour to your activities and you will get an overall idea of what village life is like and will meet an African Chief in person

4 thoughts on “Souvenir Ideas – A matching set an African Chief and his Wife”

  1. Hi Tracy,

    This is really amazing to know about these hand made stone sculpture. They look so real that I cann’t even imagine how much efforts they put to made their art as ‘Masterpiece’. The best thing is to know about the traditional role of African Chief. Thank you for sharing this beautiful art.

    1. Hi Priya

      I am so happy you stopped by and read about the African Chief! Yes the stone sculptures are so well done! I love wondering around looking at the art. I always am hopeful that they will find a new home where they will be appreciated! Did you read about the scrap metal sculptures?

  2. The sculptures look like a lot of hard work and dedication. They are beautiful! I like that you said that “Truly dedicated artists display a high regard for integrity; they don’t copy another’s artwork outright, rather they develop their own special slant or style, even if it is of the same genre.” I think that artists can all have an influence on each other, but it’s what we do with that influence that really shapes how true we are about our work. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Daybe,

      Thanks for stopping by and reading my Art Round-up! Stone carving takes hard work that’s for sure, it’s beautiful and the end though! Yes, I think it’s sad when an artists work is copied outright. Especially because it actually takes talent to copy another’s work so exactly, they would do so much better in using those skills to create their own masterpiece! Hope you return and read more of them as they come out.

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