These two Kamba figures were likely produced for the early Colonial market during the inter-war period (1920's - 1930's). Both figures depict Kamba warriors, with long, ornate sweeping hairstyles, holding spears and sticks in each hand. The figures display inlaid metal eyes, and a small loincloth has been wrapped around the hips of each. Aluminium decorations, showing the Kamba’s skill in metalwork, adorns the neck and enlarged ear lobes. Among the Kamba, young warriors pierced and enlarged their ears in order to adorn themselves with ornaments that signalled their bravery.
As Tom Phillips noted, finely carved Kamba figures showing the local styles of ornament and dress such as this probably ceased to be produced after World War II.
Estimated Period: 1920's - 1930's
Heights: 43cm and 35cm
Please note, one foot of each figure has had a traditional restoration as shown in the photos.
Tom Phillips, 'Africa: The Art of a Continent' (1995), p. 143
Richard M. Wambua, 'Woni Witu: The Role of the Akamba in the Making of Kenya' (2013).
(Click on images to enlarge)