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Zigua People

Location: Northeast Coastal Tanzania

Population: Less than 200,000

Arts: Zigua art, like most art from Tanzania, is poorly understood. Though they surely have a vibrant tradition of ritual carvings, many of their pieces are undoubtedly misidentified. There is so much overlap in styles from east to west in Tanzania that further research is vital, given the sheer volume of pieces now emerging from the country. Even the form most identified with the Zigua, the so-called "mummy" figures thought to be protective in nature, have been attributed to numerous other culture, mostly the Pare. These small carvings have a curious, quizzical face and a body virtually "shrink-wrapped" by soaking the cloth wrappings in secret liquids. There are masks and divining objects linked to them also, but again, they are all subject to a range of interpretations and origins.

History: The Zigua are thought to have fled east to their current homelands to avoid the slave trade. They are now credited with the establishment of Goshaland, which was granted autonomy in the 19th century. Of Bantu origin, the Zigua, like all Bantu peoples, can trace their origin back thousands of years. The Bantu have since spread throughout Africa to account for two-thirds of its current population.


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