Carvings of soldiers

British Museum

British Museum

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.

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  • Title: Carvings of soldiers
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 30.50cm; Width: 8.70cm; Depth: 6.90cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved
  • Registration number: Af1936,0603.1
  • Place: Found/Acquired Kenya
  • Peoples: Made by Kamba
  • Other information: Cultural rights may apply.
  • Material: wood; metal
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Sandys, M
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