Peoples from a variety of ethnic groups live in Eastern and Southern Africa. Many are nomadic herders whose visual arts must be transported easily and therefore take the form of jewelry, body ornamentation, and implements for daily use. Finely crafted personal objects like Zulu and Ndebele beaded garments are highly prized. They function as markers of their owners’ position in society and are often buried with them.
In Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar, which also have sedentary populations, large carved wooden memorial sculptures are common. An elaborate masking tradition and figurative carved sculptures that served as royal regalia developed among the Nyamwezi
of Tanzania and the Makonde of Mozambique.
In the Kalahari Desert, Khoisan Bushmen left behind a vast corpus of rock paintings, which have survived for almost 30,000 years in this parched climate. One of South Africa’s greatest cultural treasures, rock paintings were used in healing ceremonies and also to pray for game
animals or to bring rain.