Jan 30, 2020

Base for a sandal (mtalawanda / mtawanda) or Clog (kiatu cha mti)

Base for a sandal (mtalawanda / mtawanda) or Clog (kiatu cha mti)

c 1800s

Part of a set. See all set records

Wood

Overall: 6 x 10.2 cm (2 3/8 x 4 in.)

Educational Purchase Fund 1929.566.1.a

Did you know?

This distinctive footwear traveled from from Southeast Asia and the Middle East to Africa, first to the Swahili Coast and then further inland to parts of Central Africa. The deity Krishna wears similar shoes (paduka) in an eighteenth-century Indian miniature painting (2003.344).

Description

Common in the Indian Ocean region, wooden sandals changed meaning across place and time. This pair’s base elevates the foot as the toes grip an antelope-shaped peg (msuruaki). Crisp geometric sole designs suggest they were rarely worn. East African elites and merchants once had exclusive rights to wooden shoes, wearing elaborate ones only for portraits. Formerly enslaved people living along the coast wore simpler ones from the 1840s onward, adopting elite footwear to assert their liberation. However, slave traders like the Zanzibari “Tippu Tip” (c. 1832–1905) likely brought mitalawanda to Central Africa; stylistic elements of this pair hail from that region.

See also
Collection: 
African Art
Department: 
African Art
Type of artwork: 
Garment
Medium: 
Wood

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email imageservices@clevelandart.org.