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What is Shona Sculpture?
Shona Sculpture refers to stone sculptures that are hand carved by a Shona artist of Zimbabwe.   These stone sculptures can be carved from many types of stone, but are generally carved from serpentine stone or verdite.  For more information visit our page on the History of Shona Sculptures.
Who are the Shona?
The name Shona came to use during the colonial era and is used to represent a vast group of people who do not belong to a single ethnic orgin, but many ethnicities. Although the Shona do not share a singular ethnic history, they do share similar languages. Among the Shona of today are descendants of the builders of Great Zimbabwe.  Today the Shona peoples primarily inhabit Zimbabwe and southern Mozambique.  Currently, in Zimbabwe, the 9.3 million Shona people represent approximately 80% of the population.  The Shona are descendants of several groups of peoples who have inhabited Zimbabwe for up to two millennia. Today the people referred to as "Shona" consist primarily of five clans, the Korekore, Manyika, Ndau, Karanga, and Zezuru. The Shona maintain a strong clan identity in an increasingly modern world where over 2.5 million Zimbabweans have moved to the cities and towns.  Although a large number of Zimbabweans have moved to the cities and towns, most continue to live in rural areas dominated by one or another of the clans.
What kind of stone are the Shona sculptures carved from?
Shona sculptures are mainly carved from two types of stone, serpentine stone and verdite, although other types of stone are sometimes used.  Serpentine stone is harder than soapstone, but softer and easier to carve than verdite.  There are too many types of serpentine stone to count and, to date, no one is quite sure how many different kinds there are in Zimbabwe.  It has been reported that somewhere between 200 and 250 different types of serpentine stone have been identified.  Its colors range from black, green, and purple to yellows, orange, greys and reds.  These stones are typically not a solid color and will have various colors throughout due to mineral content.  According to Moh's hardness scale, soapstone would rate a 1.0, while serpentine stone can range from 2.5 to 5.5.  (Diamond scores the hardest at 10).
What is verdite?
Verdite is another type of stone that is carved into Shona sculptures.  Unlike serpentine stone, verdite is a semi-precious and increasingly rare stone in Zimbabwe.  It is also a much harder stone, making it much more difficult to carve.  It scores between a 7.0 - 9.0 on the hardness scale.  Verdite is typically a stunning green color, similar to emerald, but can also be brown or have brown and gold colored striations.  It has been referred to as "Africa's Green Gold" and "Africa's Jade".   
How is verdite different from serpentine?
Verdite is a much harder stone and more difficult to carve than serpentine stone.  Verdite does not have the color ranges that serpentine does either.  Also, verdite is not as easily accessible as serpentine and there is much less of it than there is serpentine.
Does African Import Art donate any money to help African people?
Yes, a portion of our proceeds are donated to help educate women and girls, and fight poverty in Africa. 
What kind of wood are the spoons carved from?
These wood spoons are carved from Mutanga wood, which is an African hardwood. 
Can the spoons go in the dishwasher?
These spoons can not go into the dishwasher.  They should be hand washed with soap and water.  To prevent dryness or cracking they can be oiled with food grade mineral oil.
Are the artists paid for their sculptures?
Yes, these Shona artists were paid for their sculptures using the practices of Fair Trade. 
Can a Shona sculpture be repaired if cracked or broken?
Yes, most Shona sculptures can be repaired if damage, although it does depend on the extent of the damage to the piece.  Please refer to our "Shona Sculpture Care" page for instructions on how to repair your sculpture.  If you need assistance or have questions, please contact us at
Is this a safe web site to shop with?
Yes, it is.  We have a $1 million dollar policy using SSL technology to secure all our credit card transactions.  There is a small logo at the bottom of our home page showing that we use SSL technology to protect our customers private information.
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