One of the traditional artforms in Tanzania is wood carving. Artists create all types of carvings such as faces, masks, people, bowls, bracelets and animals, but my favorite carvings are of faces. Makonde is the best known type of carving in Tanzania and is typically created using African Blackwood, or mpingo.
Mpingo is very dense and fine-grained, which allows the artists to create extremely detailed carvings. Buying carvings can be a great way to contribute to the local economy and prices for these pieces of art can vary between $10 USD to $10,000 USD.
Artisans are able to create emotions and expressions in their work that always amaze me. In fact, staring into the face of some of these carvings can be completely mesmerizing. Just like any good piece of art, I often find myself captivated in thought while viewing the carvings.
The images I show here were taken of carvings at an art center in Arusha, Tanzania. Since most of these pieces are outside in the weather, they are are beat up from years of sun and rain. I like the added texture derived from the weather and think it enhances the overall look of the carvings.
I processed these images in Nikon Capture NX2, using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3.0. I added just a touch of Bleach Bypass and increased the saturation by a few points. Bleach Bypass added to the grittiness of the images and the small punch of saturation returned a bit of color that was eliminated by the bleaching effect.