A Conventional Chess Set

In Zimbabwe, where art is a way of life, The chess set, a masterpiece to behold. Sculpted by talented artists, without strife, In Shona culture style, a story to be told.

Each piece, a work of art, with intricate design, Carved from stone, with chisel and mallet. The pawns, the rooks, the knights, so fine, Each one unique, no two the same, to tally.

On the roadside, they sell their craft, The artists, with skill, and talent to spare. Their passion and love, their only graft, As they create their art, with meticulous care.

In Zimbabwe, where art is found, The chess set, a tribute to the ground. A symbol of the talent, that lives and breathes, And a reminder that beauty comes from what we achieve.


Chess sets were among the earliest items that Shona sculptors produced for sale on city streets. Typically crafted from soapstone, a relatively soft stone that lends itself well to carving, these sets quickly gained popularity among tourists and collectors alike. As the market for these sets grew, so did the demand for other types of Shona sculptures, leading to a boom in the art form that continues to this day. The chess sets remain a testament to the ingenuity and skill of the early Shona sculptors who first recognized the commercial potential of their craft.

Soap stone carving. Click here to learn about the stones used in Zimbabwe by sculptors.

Artist unknown!   Largest pieces stand about 6cm high.