Zimbabwe is a country full of ancient history, wild nature and craftsmanship. Its name means, in the Shona language, "stone house". It took this name after its independence in 1980, in honour of "Great Zimbabwe", some archaeological remains of the Monomotapa empire, which have been named as a national sanctuary. The art in the country is extremely important, as in the rest of Africa. Artisanship in Zimbabwe plays a very important role, as it serves to promote sustainable development. Raw materials from the region are used and their sale contributes to the livelihood of many families. These are some objects to buy in Zimbabwe.
Textiles are one of the typical products of Zimbabwe where we can find fabrics of striking colours. Geometric patterns, animals and other exotic designs are used. With them suits are tailor-made by tailors in the area. The men and women of the region groom themselves with these colourful fabrics, which shine with the natural elegance which characterises them. The most commonly-used material is cotton which is dyed by a traditional process with leaves from trees, mud or other natural substances.
Raku is a type of alchemy which uses all four elements. The result is exquisite and unique pieces. They are introduced into small furnaces which reach temperatures of up to 900 ºC. Once the enamel reaches the cooking point and is in the incandescent state, it is extracted and placed with great care into a container full of wood chips. The chips ignite immediately and generate a thick smoke which is introduced into the piece and becomes part of it. The enamel with which the piece has been painted provides the necessary oxygen for the combustion of the product, and during this process it is transformed into pure metal. Finally, the object is introduced into cold water to lower the temperature and fix the chemical process. In each one you get a particular colour and texture, so there are never two equal pieces.
Basket weaving is a very old traditional art in Zimbabwe. It is passed down from one generation to another among the women of the tribes. Local materials are used, mainly the leaves of the palm tree, and are braided by hand. As a dye to colour them, vegetable substances extracted from leaves, barks and roots are used. They are wonderful items to buy in Zimbabwe which have great value because they are unrepeatable and take time and dedication, since a basket can be a month of work. Currently, baskets are the livelihood of women in some regions of the country. Several groups of women decided to meet and create a company to produce crafts and baskets to sell to tourists. Thanks to this initiative they receive income which helps maintain the quality of life of their families and invest to improve the situation of the town in general.
Masks are one of the souvenirs of Zimbabwe which are preferred by travellers, as they contain the mystery of ancient African rituals. They can be found with all kinds of representations, from animals to disturbing faces. They have several uses in traditional customs. In some cases they are used in millenary rites to attract fertility and good harvests and to protect against bad luck and evil spirits. They are also used in initiation rituals in which children become adults. For us they are an original and exotic decorative object.
Bronze is also another ancient tradition, with which figures are made with all kinds of representations. It is made by the traditional method of wax moulding. It serves to sculpt bronze figures using a beeswax mould. With this material the figure which serves as a model is carved and covered with a thick layer of bronze. When it hardens, it is introduced into the oven and the wax melts and leaves through some small holes which are made precisely for this purpose. Molten metal is injected through these same holes, which takes the identical form of the model. Then the mould is destroyed and a solid and durable metal figure with many details is obtained.
Jewellery, in all of Africa, is absolutely charged with symbolism, which is why it is so important and varied. Each element used has its own meaning. Bones, feathers, teeth, metals, minerals, colourful beads are used, and with these materials original beads and jewels are designed which the inhabitants themselves wear with pride. They are aware of the attraction which tourists feel for these souvenirs of Zimbabwe, so they can be found for sale in many places. The African tribes give great importance to personal ornamentation, and each design has a function, such as ritual dances, marriage celebrations or bodily decoration to attract the attention of the opposite sex.