This narrow vase with its modernist, geometric designs in black and white was hand carved from Kisii stone. A type of soapstone, it is named for the people of western Kenya, Africa, who are famous for their carvings of this stone that they mine locally by hand. It's carved with machetes, saws and knives, then sanded and polished. At this point, if color is desired, the piece is dyed with shoe polish or ink. Multiple people take part in creating each item and none of the steps is done by machine. Even if two or more items are the same shape, each piece is unique.
The kisii stone used for this vase is an off-white color and finely grained. The designs began with small squares carved into the entire piece. Half were painted black, then topped with painted white mazes. The other half are carved with horizontal stripes; alternating ones are painted black, the others were left natural. It measures 8 1/2 inches tall, with a rimless mouth and flat base both 2 inches in diameter. It is heavy for its size, weighing almost 2 1/2 pounds. The vase has a paper label on the bottom that reads "HAND CARVED MADE IN KENYA." Because it is handmade, the bottom is not perfectly flat so the vase wobbles slightly when you set it down. This is a dry vase, not to be used with liquids in it--you can wipe it a damp cloth to dust it. It's in excellent condition with no chips or cracks (white spots are light reflections only), and it plays well with both ethnic artifacts and modern decorative pieces. It's a dramatic and tactile piece that adds an exotic note to any room.
>>>The Shona owl sculpture from Zimbabwe shown in our photo is available here: