“Starvation Taught Me Art”: Tree Poaching, Gender and Cultural Shifts in Wood Curio Carving in Zimbabwe.

Maria Fadiman

Abstract


This study looks at wood curio carving in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Africa. Although the local people, Ndebele and Shona, have always carved, they now face a weakened economy, due in large part to land reforms in 2000. Thus, more people sculpt wood as a form of livelihood. As one man said “Starvation taught me art”. As a result, gender roles are shifting as men and women begin to enter realms previously reserved for the other. Environmentally, carvers poaching trees deforests the woodlands. As more individuals turn to making crafts sustainability deteriorates. However, people are looking into more sustainable practices. Ndebele and Shona are experimenting with carving smaller items so as to be able to earn more profit from less wood, and to use branches instead of heartwood. Carvers are also using scrap wood from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) lumber mills to lessen dependence on live trees.

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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