Munyai (Marriage Mediator)

1976

Springstone (Serpentine)

  • 19.5cm (h)
  • 13cm (w)
  • 24.5cm (d)

7kg

The munyai or marriage mediator has an important role in traditional Shona society. They liaise between the two families involved in a potential union, negotiating the terms agreed between them.

A traditional Zimbabwean marriage was both a financial arrangement and a strategic union. In fact, the alliance between the families was more important than the individuals involved and it involved payment of lobola (bridewealth) for the transfer of a young woman from one household to another.

This striking sculpture dates from 1976, so it is a super example of an early work of the late great Nicholas Mukomberanwa. He has sculpted the lines of the stylized face with such confidence!

Many collectors of Shona sculpture, ourselves included, regard Nicholas as the greatest sculptor Zimbabwe has ever produced. His work rarely comes onto the open market, as most pieces are treasured items held in private collections.

In particular, small sculptures are very rare and hard to find, as ‘big’ artists tend to make big pieces! Therefore, this piece represents a super opportunity for a collector to add a lovely little ‘Nicholas’ to their Shona sculpture collection.

Guruve is offering Munyai for sale on behalf of a private collector who acquired it in 2014, from a gallery in Zimbabwe. The original gallery label is still visible on the side of the sculpture. A certificate of authenticity from the Harare gallery (and also one from Guruve) accompany the piece.

Payment can be in pounds, or in USD equivalent – approximately $6,500 (as at March 2024).

Imperial measurements are:
7 3/4″ (h) x 5″ (w) x 9 3/4″ (d) and 15 1/2lbs.