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African carvings/items

Clarkston, MI
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African carvings/items

Alright - first I should start off by saying that I just got home from an 18 day trip to SA and Botswana and had the time of my life. Was by far the most exciting 2 and a half weeks I've ever experienced.

That being said, I'm curious as to who makes all the little wood carvings and beadwork. In Durban there are a ton of shops lining the coast selling masks, wood sculptures, paintings, etc.

300 miles away in Hluhluwe, the curio shops were selling the exact same things. Traveling hundreds of miles South to Drakensburg, you'd see the same things sold there as well.

Obviously everything is hand crafted, since I could never find two that looked exactly alike. And the work is usually very good, especially some of the stone work. It's just strange how the exact same designs are sold so often in so many different areas. Are there companies that just pump out a handful of designs and distribute them all over SA?

I did go to a Bayei village and watched them make some bowls, which I was happy to overpay for. It's very different to see find something in a shop and to see something made in front of you.

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Durban
Durban
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Hluhluwe
Hluhluwe
Zululand, South Africa
durban
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1. Re: African carvings/items

The wire works and carvings are all hand made. What happens is a trend starts and then everyone who can do it starts making the same thing. There are a lot of people out there with no means of employment, so once the trend starts everyone starts doing it. Fortunately no companies involved.

www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com

Clarkston, MI
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2. Re: African carvings/items

Great - that's what I was hoping to hear. In the states it's hard to come by anything that is hand-crafted anymore. It's all pumped out from a machine in China. I just wanted to make sure that I was buying goods from people all over rather than just a single company that mass produces them.

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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3. Re: African carvings/items

If I'd been with you, I could have told you which country produced each of the items you saw.. When you speak of wood carvings - bowls, animals, these tend to come from Kenya, though Zimbabwe produces some animals. Masks, and bigger things like furniture, usually come from central and west African countries. And yes, every one of them is handmade. Kenya also sends out masses of soap stone items from the carvers around Kisii in western Kenya. These can be animals, chessboards & pieces, bowls and plates. The Shona carvers of Zimbabwe produce huge numbers of small tourist stone pieces - and their master carvers create masterpieces, but you only find them in galleries. Beadwork is almost 100% from here in South Africa, and you see amazing examples of it in galleries, too. But the smaller items sold in the markets are also remarkable for their detail and creativity.

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4. Re: African carvings/items

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Removed on: 13 March 2011, 07:41