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Wood Carving by Kamba Tribe of Kenya.

The Kamba tribe of Kenya is a community of skilled craftsmen. The Kamba artisans create fine pieces of hand-carved animals, wall decor, bowls, cooking utensils, and furniture. They work with a variety of materials like bamboo, wood, and metal. Wood carving is a part of Kamba spirituality. They believe God, who they call Ngai, imparts shape to all living things. Carving is seen by the Kamba people as one of Ngai's creative efforts. Traditionally, only men from the tribe carve wood.

Mutisya Munge, a Kamba man from the Wamunyu area, is known as one of the pioneers of woodcarving craft. He made sculptures of Kenyan wild animals and Maasai warriors and sold many of his hand-carved pieces to the army soldiers during the First World War in 1917. After the war ended, he returned to his hometown, where he continued making different art pieces from hand-carved wood. He initially displayed his various craft pieces from hand-carved wood in Machakos and was recognized by the Colonial Government. The display and show in Machakos generated interest in Munge's relatives and neighbors, and he started teaching them the craft. The influence of wood-crafting has since become mainstream in Kenya with a growing wood-crafting industry. 

Wood carving is a primary source of livelihood in Kenya. Many artisans belong to several organizations like the Wamunyu Wood Carvers Cooperative in Machakos, promoting fairtrade between artisans and consumers. This provides artisans with a sustainable source of income for their craftsmanship. Kenyans have since evolved in their craftsmanship employing the use of ethically sourced chemicals to help preserve the wood and protect it from external attacks. 

The Artisan Variety has handpicked a collection of hand-carved items from olivewood like bowls, spoons, scoops, and plates by the Kamba artisans in Kenya.  

Olive wood is hardwood with smooth textures and beautiful grain making it ideal for carving decorative objects. Olive trees naturally grow in the Mediterranean countries in Europe and in Eastern Africa. As olives, olive oil and olive wood have become popular, olive trees are cultivated around the world.  

Olive trees have very long lives and some trees are 1000 to 2500 yrs old. Olive trees are also mentioned in greek and roman literature and in testaments of the bible indicating their long existence. Olive trees are known to only use water and not deplete the minerals from the soil. This safeguards biodiversity, keeps the soil nourished, and prevents desertification. The benefits of olive trees to the environment and their ability to live a long life have proved them to be a very sustainable resource. 

You can browse through our collection of salad bowls, scoops, cooking spoons, cheeseboards, and snack bowls. Our favorites from the collection are hand-carved olive wood bowls. They are perfect for serving a dish or use as a salad bowl. The skill and craftsmanship of the artisan can be seen in the smooth finish, natural grain, and carved details. All the products from the collection are ethically sourced.