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Tanzania -- Material Culture
Each of Tanzania's ethnic groups has a wide range of material cultural products including architecture, cooking utensils, clothes, textiles, farming equipment, hunting tools, baskets, mats, head rests, shields, art, carvings, sculpture, and so on. The following only highlights a very few number of their cultural materials.

Tingatinga paintings are a common sight in tourist markets and galleries. Tingatinga was the name of a Tanzanian artist who developed this tradition. His subjects were familiar things, such as animals, birds, and people. His work gave birth to a style of painting on wood that uses bright colors to represent stylized animals and birds (usually with the heads pointing downward) painted in two dimensions. There is now a Tingatinga Co-operative Society, established in 1990, named after the late Tingatinga. Here artists of this tradition come together to work and hold exhibits of their work.

Intricately woven baskets are done in geometric designs. As dye quality has improved, the colors have brightened. In Zanzibar, carpenters make doors with carved designs in geometric patterns. These doors reveal the island's Arabic influence, history, and tradition.

Wood carving is another important craft. Much of the work is for the tourist market and its subjects are animals and human figures. One important tradition among these carvers is the ebony sculptures produce by the Makonde. They produce a sculpture known as "the tree of life" which depicts a family ancestor at the bottom with generations of people being supported by past generations.

Jewelry in Tanzania is as diverse as its ethnic groups. The Maasai have large colorful beaded necklaces that they wear in layers. In Zanzibar, the jewelry has more of an Indian element. Silver and gold pieces are used as investments and to transfer Shillings into a stable economic form. Jewelry from malachite, coconut shells, and ebony is also popular.

For Further Reading:
Stout, J. Anthony. 1966. Modern Makonde Sculpture. Nairobi: Kibo Art Gallery.
Korn, Jorn. 1974. Modern Makonde Arts. Translated and Photographs by Jester Kirkanqes. London: Hamlyn.
Wembah-Rshid, J. A. R. 1972. Tingatinga of Tanzania. African Arts 5 (4):2021.

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