Stones used by Sculptors of Zimbabwe

The following notes provide brief background information on some of the stones used by the sculptors of Zimbabwe.


Serpentine stone comes in a range of colors and variations, including black, brown, green, red, orange, mauve, and variegated. Each color and variation of serpentine stone has its own unique characteristics and properties.  They are with the exception of Red serpentine found all over Zimbabwe.

Black serpentine is a solid-colored stone with a dark coloration and a smooth texture.

Brown serpentine is a lighter-colored stone with a brown or reddish-brown hue. It is often used in carving and sculpting due to its uniform color and relatively soft texture.

Green serpentine is a light-colored stone with a green hue, which is due to the presence of minerals such as chromium and nickel. It is more challenging to work with than black or brown serpentine due to its harder and more brittle texture.

Red serpentine is a stone with a reddish hue and a relatively uniform coloration. It is prized for its rich, deep color.  It is found in Guruve.  It can range in hardness.  Sometimes it is so soft that it is unworkable.

Orange serpentine is a stone with an orange hue and a uniform coloration. It is prized for its bright, warm color.

Mauve serpentine is a stone with a purple or violet hue and a uniform coloration. It is prized for its unique coloration.

Variegated serpentine is a stone with a mix of colors, including black, green, and white. It is prized for its unique and varied patterns, which can be used to create intricate and detailed sculptures.

Each type of serpentine stone is valued for its unique properties and is often used by sculptors to create specific effects in their work.

The best of these Tengenenge Serpentines have a fine texture with no cleavages, are hard and firm so offer a good resistance to the sculptor; and are wrapped in the outer "blanket  of reddish brown oxidized rock. They emerge from the quarry like sculptures created by nature millions of years ago and are often a source of inspiration to the artist.


Springstone is a type of serpentine stone that is known for its hardness and density. It is typically black or brown in color and is prized for its uniform texture, making it ideal for carving and sculpting.


Lepidolite is a type of mica stone that is found in Zimbabwe. It is prized for its lavender color and its natural sparkle, which is due to the presence of mica crystals. Lepidolite is often used by sculptors in Zimbabwe to create delicate and intricate sculptures, such as animal figures.


Steatite also known as Soapstone or Soaprock

The Masano deposit at Tengenenge provides very beautiful red. green, brown, orange and pink steatites. lt is a softer stone than ser­pentine.  This was one of the first stones used for carving in ZImbabwe and was used to carve the 8 ZImbabwe Birds at ""Great Zimbabwe"".  When touched the stone feels like it has been bathed in soap.


A decorative stone, often used in the creation of small objects and figurines.   This green and brown stone is found only in two locations world­ wide primarily in the Limpopo Province.  The Zimbabwe deposit is considered to be of particularly high quality because of its hardness and beautiful variations of colour. lt is known as Ruby Verdite, because of the presence of corundum in much of the stone.

Golden Verdite

A variety of verdite lacking the presence of chrome which gives ver­dite its green colour. The result is a rich gold brown stone normally softer than green Verdite (but even more rare).

Leopard Rock

A rarely used ornamental stone found in the Nyanga area. Very hard and characterized by blotches of yellow and black; hence the name "Leopard Rock".

Sipolilo Stone

A very hard orange/yellow serpentine found in the Guruve area.


Close to the capital city, Harare, a hard, finely grained grey limestone deposit exists.


Zimbabwe has vast deposits of white, grey and variegated marbles.

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