The Sunday News
Walter Mswazie in Masvingo
A BUDDING Chivi artiste, Sylvester Gundani has come up with a massive painting reflecting a zebra whose unique and captivating features he says closely resembles that of a spider.
He says, when taking a closer look, the animal — zebra is not easy to remove one’s eyes from as it is literally magnetic and thus one’s eyes will be trapped in calmness and joy.
He says what is more interesting is the animal’s close relationship with a spider as on its face one can visualise a spider like creature.
Gundani says there are three types of zebra namely; the plain zebra, mountain zebra and grevys zebra.
The most common zebra, he said, is the plain zebra which is also geographically widespread and is mostly found in the Southern parts of Africa, south of the Sahara.
This type of plain (equus quagga formerly equus burcheli) zebra has also differentiated into several species which are the grant zebra (equus burcheli) which is the most common and is the one shown on the painting.
He also said there are sub-zebra species with the following scientific names, equus quagga burcheli, equus quagga boehmi, equus quagga borensis, equus quagga chapmani, and equus quagga crawshayi and equus quagga selousi.
These are all species of the plain zebra (equus quagga) and the name was derived from its call which sounds like “kwa-ha-ha”
However, all the three types of zebras, that is the plains zebra, the mountain and the gravy zebra are similar to a spider web, through their stripped lines “imprinted” on the body.
The lines of a zebra are supported by the body while the lines of a spider are supported by the criss-crossing that do save the purpose of supporting the spider house as well as trapping of insects.
While the zebra does not have to trap insects its lines “trap” our eyes, as it is a hard to ignore animal specie.
“The zebra lines have a literally magnetic force to the human eyes,” said Gundani.
The plains do share similarities on their stripes with the orb (circular) weaver spider clearer as its encircled lines go around the body than others.
He said orb weaver spiders are the most common group of builders of spiral wheel shaped web often found in gardens, fields and forestry.
He said, “Here we find something interesting that the plain zebra is the most common one of the zebras. The orb weaver spider is also the most common group of builders of spiral wheel-shaped webs.”
But the question is, why does the face of the zebra show like a spider-like creature?
Its lines go according to the shape of the neck and the body but they clearly show that they increase in shape to the belly, patterning the spiral wheel-shaped web.
Why do these lines change direction from the belly exactly showing the hanging lines that support the cob web?
He said at the back the lines are kept parallel similar to the lines of a spider web which hang in the bushes or trees. The lines are also unique to each individual zebra like the lines of the orb web which we sometimes see hanging.
Were these animals designed in a spider way for us to always feel good and refreshed when in distress? When you are crying or traumatised, you are forced to calm down once you look at the zebra — thus being trapped into happiness and overwhelming joy, he said.
Gundani says he is inspired by Salvaintor Mundi who painted the art works called the Saviour and Francois Chauke from South Africa who painted The Antelope.