Dona (Danasion), Akobe

Dona (Danasion), Akobe

Raised by his grandmother in the village Akisiamauw in district Sipaliwini, Dona (Danasion Akobe, 1971) just like every other child from maroon villages in those days, is exposed to the traditional craft of woodcarving (Tembe) from an early age. With some simple tips from his grandmother he starts experimenting with the techniques of Tembe and soon discovers that he possesses a keen knack for the craft.  His father was a great ‘Tembe-man’ and although Dona did not learn the skill from him, the artisan does acknowledge the fact that the talent flows through his blood, or as he says ‘a de in a brudu’.

When Dona moves to Paramaribo as a young man of about 20, he quickly finds out that it is not so easy to find work and build a good life for his family in the city. But Dona is well aware of his special talent when it comes to woodcarving and he decides to make this craft into his career.  He starts with furniture. He makes vanities, beds and headboards and other elaborately carved pieces in an antique style, which are sold in the furniture departments of for example Kersten, CHM and Rudisa.

In 1994 he enters the craft department of Readytex for the first time with a beautifully carved hand-mirror called a ‘Hati dendoe’. This first contact with Readytex in 1994 has by now grown into a close and valued relationship with the entire Readytex team. Dona is the steady supplier of the extensive ‘Malohkoh’ line of woodcarvings at Readytex crafts in Paramaribo. The line consists of handmade wooden maroon crafts and artifacts based upon the Saramaccan culture in combination with painted details influenced by the Aucan culture. He uses the traditional craft as his starting point, but is determined to use his own skill and creativity to take the craft to new heights.

Because of his expertise in the field of woodcarving, Dona also contributes to art projects of several visual artists, such as Marcel Pinas and also Remy Jungerman. For the 2010 exhibition SURE Suriname in The Hague, the Netherlands, he produces a modern line of products in designs developed by the creators of the exhibition.

In March of 2012 Dona is the first artisan from Readytex crafts to exhibit his work in a solo exhibition. He names his exhibition Da mi wan maun (Give me a hand).

I use the traditional Tembe craft as my starting point, but with my own skill and creativity I want to take the craft to new heights.

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