African wood carvings are traditionally said to be made from ebony wood, with the heart of the tree containing a deep brown to black colour. However, although people called it ebony, it is not from the true ebony that is grown in the area. Instead many of the carvings are produced from the African blackwood tree. The tree is locally known as mpingo and is commonly found all over East Africa, around Dar es Salaam and the Mozambique granadilla. Mpingo allows the artist to carve with incredible levels of detail and allows the wood to then be finished by being polished, which produces a wonderful shine.
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