Unlike other African tribes, the Zulu are less known for their metal or woodcarvings, but rather for baskets and beadworks. And yet, despite some discussion, our piece is one of the figurines that have derived from Zulu hands which shows that they are not only producers of rather trivial geometrically ornamented bowls, cups or neckrests, but that they have a fine sense, particularly of female representations, linked to the domestic sphere. This is explained by the social place women have in Zulu societies. As Zulus are gifted farmers of corn and vegetable, but also raise cattle, their male part of the family looks after the cows and the female after the farming. Now female are the ones that own and inherit the estates, hence enjoy considerable power.
History and Rituals
In Zulu history, myths, rituals are interconnected. They draw their origin from the first male Zulu, who derived from Congo. Yet, this northern homeland may have only been an imaginary one, as the tribe itself is found further south and, from its language (the clickings remind of further south african tribes), may have always lived in this area. As with so many other African tribes, during the colonial times, they became more powerful, but also were subjugated by the British Empire in the 19th century.
Our object: The female spoon
As can be seen from the design, the spoon does not use the female woman as a decoration, but the entire structure is build on the female body. Here head makes up the spoon which represents the female being the one that holds and provides the living of the family, and all that the family needs is provided by her body. That her power is linked not to individual features, like her face or limbs, but by her sexual genitals, is prominently displayed with this spoon.