“The chapungu [bateleur eagle] is a very important bird in Zimbabwe. You are not allowed to kill them; you have to look after them because there are very few left. The eagles act as guides and warn travellers when there are lions about.”
This is a charming sculpture by the greatest living Zimbabwean sculptor, Sylvester Mubayi. He grew up in rural Zimbabwe and venerates all wild animals.
The bateleur eagle, which is one of Zimbabwe’s national symbols, is very close to Sylvester’s heart. His great friend and mentor Frank McEwen (curator of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe) had a bateleur eagle as a pet.
It is very special for Sylvester to sculpt a chapungu, because they were the first things sculpted by the Shona people. There are chapungu birds sculpted on the top of the stone doorposts at the Great Zimbabwe monument. These date from 12th – 14th Centuries and are thought to represent the individual kings of the Shona dynasty.
Sylvester chose this theme for this piece of stone, as the colour of the grey limestone echoes the white-grey fluff of the baby eagle.
He has chosen to leave the limestone unwaxed because the clear wax affects the colour of the stone. Limestone can react with water, so although this stone is incredibly hard, we recommend indoor display only to avoid discolouration.
The piece is in the UK and will be shipped from there; P&P at buyer’s expense.