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We offer Soapstone carvings from Kenya, Zimbabwe and Vietnam
Kenyan Soapstone Shona Sculpture from Zimbabwe Vietnamese Soapstone
Kisii Soapstone Carvings from Kenya
Zanzibar offers an ever changing selection of fairly traded soapstone items from Kenya, visit our gallery for the best selection.
Contrary to its name, soapstone is a metamorphic rock, quarried just like marble or granite. It is soft and easy to carve, having hardness about half the way between chalk and marble and is similar to pipestone.
It can range in age from 300 to 400 million years. As the talc in soapstone is soft to the touch, it gives one the smooth feeling of rubbing a piece of dry soap. Thus the name was derived as 'soap' stone. No, you can't wash with it, nor will it produce any suds.
Kisii stone typically exhibits coloration ranging from creamy white to yellow to red to dark grey, depending on the mineral(s) present in the stone. Originally they carved this material into pots for carrying fat, which was massaged into the skin as a safeguard against the elements.
Zanzibar Trading Company and our affiliates work in Kenya with an extended
collective of talented kisii stone carvers and painters. The carvers are
members of the international fair trade association, IFAT. Using a limited
number of tools, the carvers mine the soapstone in large blocks, then pare
off smaller chunks for carving. Using a small knife called a kisu, the
carvers quickly and efficiently liberate both realistic and abstract
animal and human figures from the stone. For the export market, carvers
have also begun to carve an extended selection of functional shapes,
including bowls, plates, candleholders, boxes and photo frames.
To read a complete article on soapstone, click Kenyan Soapstone
Shona Carvings from Zimbabwe
Shona sculptures, named for the
people (Shona tribe) who traditionally carve these contemporary soapstone
and serpentine carvings are well known and highly collectable. From the
country of Zimbabwe, Africa, Zanzibar offers several artist's works. We
also have access to larger, museum and collector quality as well as
historical (pre 1970) pieces by well known, published master artists.
Soapstone Carvings from Vietnam