Recasting Mapungubwe’s trove

Gold-plated plastic, brass

Clemence Hilaire (Fine Arts)


The rhinoceros of Mapungubwe is a 14cm gold artefact, first excavated in 1932 in the medieval kingdom of Mapungubwe’s royal graves (700 – 1200) in current South Africa. It depicts a rhinoceros with a unique horn, characteristic of the Asian species and not its African cousin. The artefact became an indicator and symbol of the sophisticated society inhabiting this region in the Middle Ages, challenging the historical construction on which apartheid ideology was based. This project aims to agglomerate different gazes on this strongly politicised artefact. The reconstitution is as composite as its history, but nonetheless reactivates the burial ritual.


Keywords: Precolonial Society, Synchronic Ritual

Credits: With the kind participation of Ntombi Dlamini, Benjamin van As, Samad Gaffor, Xola Ndziba, Lesja van Hoof