The Most Holy Trinity Carvings at the presbytery of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Mangete, kwaZulu/Natal, South Africa are a quite unique work of art. They were carved in Thombothi wood by Joel Mbuyisa from Mame, Mahlabatini district, the cross with the Holy Spirit dove in 1991 and uNkulunkulu (God Father) in 1992. This is a most genuine expression of the traditional Zulu beliefs applied to the divine revelation about God.
Christ on the cross wears a loin cloth, i.e. an iBeshu covers the back and an isiNene covers the front of his pelvis. His crown is the isiCoco, a headring which is only worn by grown up men. A dove symbolising the Holy Spirit descends upon Christ above his head.
God Father is depicted as the uNkulunkulu. He has only one leg, one arm, one eye, one ear, one tooth - the expression of God's oneness which needs no duplication even of body parts. He sits on a stool, which in Zulu history was a privilege for the king. Normal people would sit on the ground. On his left buttock is a little person. Asked for the significance of this feature the artist replied: "That is the devil and God sits on him". Due to the way the sculpture is mounted on the wall, this detail is not visible. uNkulunkulu's one and only arm leans upwards against a tree. If one looks closely at the tree, there is a snake attached to the tree over the entire length of it. The snake symbolises the ancestors, as they are with God. From the top of the tree an elephant trunk is hanging down in a curve. It is a title of honour for the Zulu King to be told: "Wena weNdlovu!" (You are the elephant!) This signifies that the king is as powerful, strong and invincible as an elephant.
What a wonderful expression of ethnic perception of God and inculturation!
This page was last updated on Friday, 18 March 2016 00:47:22