kisii, kenya

preserving the soapstone carving traditions of kisii


a prized stone and ancient craft

the artisans of kisii in western kenya carry on the long-standing tradition of soapstone carving. kisii soapstone is highly valued for its soft, workable texture ranging in hues from gray to green. skilled carvers in kisii have been hand-sculpting this unique stone for generations.


intricate carvings and designs

the soapstone carvings of kisii showcase a wide array of designs from abstract shapes to intricate motifs. artisans carefully craft sculptures, bowls, vases, and more while maintaining the natural flow and luster of the stone. each piece highlights the creativity and talent of the carver.

Kenyan men carving objects.

"after hours spent carving, my hands become rough and worn. though it is demanding work, this is how I make a living to support my family, just as generations of artisans did before me."

pride and livelihood of the carvers

soapstone carving is a source of income and pride for many in the kisii region. the artisans are committed to sustaining this handicraft and passing on the carved works as cultural heritage. the hand-sculpted creations reflect the passion of the carvers who have mastered working with kisii's prized soapstone.

from animal motifs to household items, every carving celebrates the enduring soapstone craft of kisii. the artisans shape the stone into breathtaking forms while preserving an ancient tradition.


crafting the carvings

the carving process begins with quarrying the raw soapstone. the artisans use machetes and hand tools to cut and shape the stone. initial forms are carved out of stone blocks. the carved piece is then sanded and polished using water and grinding stones. this wet sanding brings out the smooth finish and luster of the soapstone. final details and designs are added with small blades. each carving reflects the skill of the artisan in crafting the stone.

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