About Twiga Mbunda

Twiga Mbunda is an African Art collector, curator and dealer. She’s lived in San Francisco for thirty years and for 18 years, she is one of the few women in the US to own and run a Tribal Art gallery, the eponymous Twiga Gallery.

Twiga is from Tanzania and began collecting African Art in 1987. Her first piece was a mask from the Makonde tribe. At that time, very few people were familiar with Makonde art other than the work made in ebony. Twiga shared her knowledge of the Makonde works with other Tribal Art dealers who purchased important works from her. This helped establish her reputation as an important dealer of Tribal Art with an emphasis on African art.

Twiga collects rare and antique beads from all over the world including Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Middle East and Africa, some dating back to BC. While she was developing her gallery, Twiga made incredible jewelry from these beads with ebony carved in her village. She sold these pieces through Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, Takashimaya, Linda Dressner and Ultimo Chicago. Her jewelry work was able to support her growing gallery, her family in Tanzania and a school for orphans in Mbinga, Tanzania. She continues to make her innovative designs. To see more of her jewelry work, please visit Twiga Jewelry. website.

Passionate about African Art, Twiga believes this work to be fine art similar to the modern art that was inspired by the masks and power figures. The tribal pieces are infused with energy from the ancestors. This was the technology of the time and was believed to support and sustain the tribe while dealing with disease, the environment, their relationships to animals, the community and deepening their spirituality. Twiga sees the history of mankind in the works. To see the works as beautiful is simplistic. Tribal art is raw, honest, powerful and educational. It reveals things that we don’t want to see or acknowledge. In many ways, African art can be understood as documentation of an earlier time. Twiga feels we are privileged to view and collect these works.

Her passion extends to educating visitors and collectors about the power, energy and history these artworks contain. As an African woman who grew up in a small village in Tanzania, her heart and soul is connected to these works. Her personal collection contains works that are as controversial as Africa itself. Twiga will correctly tell you that not all works needed to be used in order to be important as some people contend. This includes carved ivories from the master carvers of Benin that were commissioned by the Portuguese and are housed in museums all over the world. Or incredible Chieftan stools that were carved by the master carvers specifically to give to visiting dignitaries. The Chiefs would never give their personal thrones as some suspected. Tribal art works were intended to solve problems, heal wounds, celebrate life passages, love and death. Tribal artworks brought peace and united people. Twiga feels honored to share her collections with you as she sees her job as one who bridges cultures with stories, history and art. Twiga invites you to visit her gallery in San Francisco.