Traditional arts in Zimbabwe include pottery, basketry, textiles, jewelry and carving. Among the distinctive qualities are symmetrically patterned woven baskets and stools carved out of a single piece of wood. Shona sculpture has become world famous in recent years having first emerged in the 1940s. Most subjects of carved figures of stylised birds and human figures among others are made with sedimentary rocks such as soapstone, as well as harder igneous rocks such as serpentine and the rare stone verdite. Some of these Zimbabwean artifacts being found in countries like Singapore, China and Canada. i.e. Dominic Benhura's statue in the Singapore botanic gardens.
Shona sculpture in essence has been a fusion of African folklore with European influences. World renowned Zimbabwean sculptors include Nicholas, Nesbert and Anderson Mukomberanwa, Tapfuma Gutsa, Henry Munyaradzi and Locardia Ndandarika. Internationally, Zimbabwean sculptors have managed to influence a new generation of artists, particularly Black Americans, through lengthy apprenticeships with master sculptors in Zimbabwe. Contemporary artists like New York sculptor M. Scott Johnson and California sculptor Russel Albans have learned to fuse both African and Afro-diasporic aesthetics in a way that travels beyond the simplistic mimicry of African Art by some Black artists of past generations in the United States.
Several authors are well known within Zimbabwe and abroad. Charles Mungoshi is renowned in Zimbabwe for writing traditional stories in English and in Shona and his poems and books have sold well with both the African and European communities. The book The House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera won an award in the UK in 1979 and the Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing's first novel The Grass Is Singing, the first four volumes of The Children of Violence sequence, as well as the collection of short stories African Stories are set in Rhodesia.
Internationally famous artists include Henry Mudzengerere and Nicolas Mukomberanwa. A recurring theme in Zimbabwean art is the metamorphosis of humankind into beast. Zimbabwean musicians like Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi, the Bhundu Boys and Audius Mtawarira have achieved international recognition. Among members of the European minority community, Theatre has a large following, with numerous theatrical companies performing in Zimbabwe's urban areas.
Zimbabwean art includes decorative esthetics applied to many aspects of life, including art objects as such, utilitarian objects, objects used in religion, warfare, in propaganda, and in many other spheres. Within this broad arena, Zimbabwe has several identifiable categories of art. It is a hallmark of African cultures in general that art touches many aspects of life, and most ethnic groups have a vigorous and often recognizable canon of styles and a great range of art-worked objects.
These can include masks, drums, textile decoration, beadwork, carving, sculpture, ceramic in various forms, housing and the person themselves. Decoration of the body in permanent ways such as scarification or tattoo or impermanent design as in painting the body for a ceremony is a common feature of African cultures.
Spoken or musical art is also a prominent part of Africas generally. Various instruments including drums, lamellaphones and stringed bows have been used in Zimbabwe, while oratory, poetry, fable telling, praise singing and ethnic ritual chants are also prominent. And in recent decades Zimbabwe has become widely recognized internationally for its sculpture.
It is useful to examine Zimbabwean art through time, by area, by main ethnic division and as indicative of recent historic and political changes. There is an artistic tradition in Zimbabwe that can be traced back to pottery of the Early and Late Stone Age and rock paintings from the Late Stone Age. Many rock paintings produced by San artists between 10000 and 2000 years ago are found in cultural sites in Zimbabwe and these demonstrate a high degree of...