Tanzania is known throughout the world for its beautiful and complicated carvings of wood, ebony and ivory. The Makonde people in the southeast are internationally renowned for their carved ebony masks and figurines. They have been perfecting this craft for more than 300 years. The artistic skill of the Masai can be seen in the beautiful designs on their shields and spears and in the beadwork of the ceremonial necklaces they wear. 

In the Stone Town of Zanzibar, the doors of the houses are carved with complex designs that reflect the island's Arabic heritage. Beautiful furniture is also made on this island. An elaborately decorated stool is a mark of status in Tanzania. 

Swahili literature is very rich. Shaaban Robert is the best-known writer. His most famous work was a poem on the struggle for freedom called Utenzi wa vya Uhuru. The work of Flora M'mbugu-Schelling, a prize-winning filmmaker, shows Tanzanian women dealing with social issues.

 Tanzanian music includes traditional music known as ngoma, choral music by kwaya groups, dance music called mtindo, and modern jazz, which in Tanzania is known as "urban jazz." On the island of Zanzibar, sung poetry known as taarab is very popular. Many musical groups also function as social groups. Several types of drums are made in Tanzania. Drums have fulfilled many functions over the ages in this area. Drumming was used to mark the arrivals or departures of leaders and to encourage the bravery of warriors.

  Did you know?
Some Tanzanian women wear a kanga, a brightly coloured cloth wrapped around their bodies and heads. Kangas were named after a spotted bird because many of the original designs featured white dots on a dark cloth.
Tanzania has many traditional forms of dancing. One dance performed by women is called the chakacha. It is similar to belly dancing. Another women's dance, called lelemama, involves complicated hand movements. Both are popular on the coast and islands of Tanzania and are often performed at weddings.
  Did you know?
Many rock paintings in Tanzania were made in the Stone Age and can still be seen in caves. Pigments were mixed with animal fat to create crayons that were used to draw delicate sketches of people dancing, singing and playing musical instruments. These drawings depict the common activities of the people thousands of years ago.