Joseph Singombe's Art

Joseph Singombe is a renowned Makonde Artist, born and raised in Tanzania.  He is a master artist and his sculptures are distinguished and unique.  Joseph has been carving since the age of 8.   He learned the craft from his father.  Joseph says, “art runs in my blood, because my father was also an artist”.

Wood Sculpture of the Makonde people of Tanzania is widely known and generally there is a high regard for the Makonde as skilled, creative and imaginative sculptors.  Joseph’s art work is held in prestigious museums and galleries throughout the world.

Makonde sculptures are three-dimensional works of art carved from a medium of solid ebony wood. Today the modern sculpture has three distinct styles: Shetani (spirit/devil) Ujamaa (Family Tree) and Mawingu (clouds/abstract).  Well known sculptors are associated with the origins of these styles and Joseph’s father is one of them.

Joseph is well known in all the three distinct styles mentioned above.  For this article we will look at Joseph’s art work – “The UJAMAA Sculpture” (Family Tree).

 Joseph Singombe @ work

The Ujamaa sculpture in picture took him 4 months to carve.  Joseph mainly uses traditionally made tools; the chisel is his best friend.

The UJAMAA Art represents the extended African family living and working together to achieve a common goal which is nurturing and caring for the family.



Artist:  Joseph Singombe

Medium:  Ebony Wood (mninga)

Dimensions:  10” x 12” x 18”  *Base 14”

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