Susana López ~ Happy Bellies


The wooden belly sculptures (body masks) are made by the Makonde people. They live in the border area of Tanzania and Mozambique, in small separate communities and provide for maintenance by nomadic agriculture, hunting and sale of woodcarvings. The Makonde people believe in (female) ancestor worship and spirits, which frequently occur in several ceremonies and rituals.

One of the most important ritual is the initiation ceremonie. For a period of 6 months the boys and girls must live in confinement, where they are taught the rules of adult behavior, the rights and obligations of marriage etc.). The "coming out" ceremony at the end of the initiation rites include feasting, dancing and the masquerade of the Midimu spirit and -body masks. This special body mask is called "Amwalindembo".

The body mask carved from wood has been made to the portrait of a young pregnant woman, decorate with typical Makonde tattoos. These tattoos are in fact grooves with a knife, done by a parent tribe member. They serve as a decoration, but they believe that they have a supernatural and magical function. These scarifications are also a proof of courage and evidence that the young people would be able to endure the responsibilities and hardship of adulthood.


The body masks are worn by the male dancers. He performs with its dancing the agonies of childbirth, so that he can imagine himself in the feeling of the woman!

Susana López, stewardess with an enormous craze for Africa, encountered Dar es Salaam on one of her travels these body masks in Tanzania. “I was immediately swept off my feet by its shape and the fact that each belly was differently! I import the bellies (Firstly 1 belly by time, in my samsonite!) and afterwards I send them with the KLM cargo and paint them in the Netherlands. And called them Happy Bellies! Her extensive travel and contact with all kinds of cultures and people gives her the necessary inspiration. She obtains her inspiration from everywhere, from the things which she encounters, on the street or her 6 year old daughter!

"Happy Belly" is a manner to brighten up the world with coloured pregnant sculptures, which get a complete other dimension by the painting, sometimes tough, sweet or simply crazy! Exactly those poll differences in which a pregnant woman is herself. Pregnant the phase in which changes so much in a female body, is on itself already art!

  21 July 1966 ~ 5 March 2007

Susana was a beautiful, strong and charming lady, full of life. She was 100% POPA. We don't know many people who would be as positive as she was. She was counting her blessings every day. She is an example to all of us. With pain in our hearts we say goodbye to our dear dear friend.
She will live in our hearts for ever.