Explore / Online Tours

Carvings of soldiers

Figure of soldier

  • Figure on spoon

    Figure on spoon

  • Figure of soldier

    Figure of soldier

 

Height: 30.000 cm (Ethno 1936,6-3.1)
Height: 30.000 cm (Ethno 1936,6-3.1)
Height: 30.000 cm (Ethno 1936,6-3.1)

AOA 1936,6-3.1, 1933,11-22.2, 1968.Af8.1

On loan to

Previous tour

tour 11 of 15

Next tour

Views from Africa

Carvings of soldiers


These figures of African soldiers developed independently of local carving traditions. They were made exclusively for sale to Europeans who came to Kenya after the First World War (1914-18). The first carvings of this type were produced by Mutsiya Munge, a Kamba carver of ceremonial sticks.

By the start of the First World War Europeans ruled most of Africa, and Africans became caught up in European politics and war. Like many Africans in Kenya, Mutsiya Munge joined the British army and served in the Carrier Corps in Tanzania. During this time he came into contact with Zaramo carvers living around Dar es Salaam, who made figures in local dress and ornament for sale to Europeans. This inspired him to begin carving askari (East African soldiers recruited by Europeans) and Africans in local dress when he returned to Kenya after the war.

Other men in the district began to make similar standardised figures for tourist and export sale, and a profitable handicraft industry developed that continues today.

Shop Online

African textiles, £10.99

African textiles, £10.99