Dimensions: 1,17 m high
Series of 15
Set in the majestic green mountains just north of Tzaneen, in Limpopo, is the seat of South Africa’s only matrilineal – and most secretive – dynasty: the royal kraal of Modjadji, the Rain Queen of the Balobedu people. The area is known as Modjadjikloof. In 1800 the first Modjadji was crowned as rain queen and the dynasty of Modjadji was founded. Her wide-spread fame soon became legendary and drew ambassadors and kings from all over Southern Africa to pay homage to the person who could call the life-giving rain. She was never seen and her secrecy shrouded her in mystery.
This sculpture depicts Modjadji while calling the rain. Her secret rain medicine is stored in the earthen rain pots (mehago) depicted at the base of the sculpture. The magic rain horns are filled with the rain potion, which produces smoke when burnt. The smoke rises up in the air to form rain clouds. When the horns are put on the ground, the rain falls. When it is hung up, the rain stops and the weather becomes fine. The gomana drums, when beaten, are also believed to call the rain. The carvings around the base of the sculpture are authentic representations of the symbols around the queen’s courtyard.
Owing to Modjadji’s secrecy and the fact that no representation of her ceremonial dress is available in literature, Tienie used his imagination and knowledge of African cultures to create her ceremonial dress. The decoration on the ‘belt’ around her hips is made of Marula seedpods that resemble small skulls to symbolise the sacrificial nature of her ritual