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Congolese sculptors showcase their wood carving skills

Sculptor Magloire Ndassa   -  
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Republic of the Congo

The Place du Jardin des Droits de l'Homme, a quiet square in the centre of the Congolese capital, Brazzaville, is the scene of an extraordinary exhibition of sculptures.

Artists from all over the city have come to show off their work at the third edition of the Woodworking Trade Fair.

They use local woods such as limba, kambala, ayous, and wengé or ironwood, to produce a variety of beautiful objects.

Craftsman Magloire Ndassa is putting the finishing touches to his latest piece.

"This is an elephant. It is gentle and friendly to everyone. Even foreigners who come to Africa, they love to see the elephant. This one’s made from grey ebony, which is a very precious wood, very rare in the world, but found here in the Congo," he says.

For those interested in buying, there is plenty to choose from. In addition to animals, you can also find kitchen utensils and many other decorative objects.

It is an artform that inspires many, like sculptor Ludovic Mboum.

"When you carve on wood, you find it precious. There's not only its charm and the stripes of certain woods. But there's also its softness. It's beautiful because it's nature. The beauty of nature is priceless," he says.

Some one hundred sculptors are taking part in the fair, showcasing not only their skills but also their country’s rich heritage.

"We sculpt to give value to our culture and our works. I personally don't sculpt, but the objects I’m exhibiting here are left by our ancestors. They show us how life was. It's thanks to them that we lead the lives we do today," says Christain Sanga Pamba.

Shaping this precious raw material is a real source of employment, with wood the second largest sector in the Congolese economy.

Mireille Opa Elion is Director General of the National Artisan’s Agency which organised the event.

"You can see all the beautiful carvings we have. The country has a law requiring state buildings to be decorated or adorned with the work of Congolese craftsmen,” she says.

Sculptors from six other African countries are taking part in the event.

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