About this artwork
Born into a family of carvers, Ntzinyanga Qwabe is well known for sculpting panels for the racks used in a Zulu homestead for storing rolled grass mats or draping blankets. He applied the traditional pokerwork technique (using a heated poker to decorate wood with burn marks) to depict people and scenes of Zulu life on these panels. One presents a cattle kraal (corral) and a seated chief meeting with a group of men.
Produced in the first half of the 20th century, Qwabe’s work captured the attention of white South Africans at a time when rural life was undergoing significant change. Despite the restrictive format, Qwabe’s compositions suggest depth and movement through figures that overlap as well as vary in their scale and position. Contemporary visual sources such as cigarette cards and photographs may have informed his style.
- Zizwezenyanga Qwabe
- Northern Nguni
- Storage-Rack Panel with Figures and Animals
- South Africa (Object made in), Africa (Object made in), Province of KwaZulu-Natal (Object made in)
- 91.4 × 7.6 cm (36 × 3 in.)
- Purchased with funds provided by Cynthia and Terry E. Perucca and Marshall Field