Virtual exhibition of Samuele Makoanyane sculptures

Ceramic sculpture by Samuele Makoanyane of Moshesh or Moshoeshoe (c.1776-1870), first king of Lesotho from 1822 to 1870. Collection of the Iziko Museums of South Africa. Photographic rendition by Stephen Wessels (DIJONDESIGN photogrammetry specialist).

Iziko Museums of South Africa has launched KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen, a 3D virtual exhibition that brings to life the ceramic sculptures created by Samuele Makoanyane (1909 – 1944).

Active between 1930 and 1944, Makoanyane lived and worked in the Koalabata village in the Teyateyaneng district of Lesotho – creating realistic sculptures of important figures in Lesotho’s history, such as King Moshoeshoe, and becoming one of Lesotho’s prominent early 20th century artists.

In addition to the historical figures he sculpted, Makoanyane also created figurines of the people he observed around him going about their daily pursuits: women carrying pots, making beds and breast-feeding babies.

This rendition of Makoanyane’s work offers viewers an interactive opportunity to virtually explore the delicate figurines in great detail and from all angles – including the bases and inscriptions on the works.

In the production of KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen, an intricate photogrammetry process was used to carefully document Makoanyane’s ceramic sculptures. The process entailed measuring, mapping and digitally adjusting the tiny sculptures into 3D models to create the online presentation.

KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen features Makoanyane figurines from the Iziko Museums Collections, as well as seven sculptures of musicians, each playing a different instrument, from the Kirby Collection at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

The exhibition is enhanced by a film sponsored by UCT’s College of Music entitled Music in the Mountain Kingdom. The film, which was shot at the Morija Museum and Archives in early 2020, features contemporary musicians playing five of the seven instruments that Makoanyane sculpted.

The idea to focus on Makoanyane’s work emanated from discussions around the new Lesotho National Museum (LNM) project when staff from the Lesotho Ministry of Culture met with staff of the Iziko Museums in Cape Town in 2019. The visit was facilitated by Jon Weinberg of DIJONDESIGN, consultants and mandated representatives of the LNM – a project of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture of the Government of Lesotho.

A physical exhibition of Makoanyane’s works, along with a conservation training programme for incumbent staff of the LNM was initially planned for 2020 but could’t take place because of the pandemic.

Iziko Museums partnered with DIJONDESIGN in the development of a virtual offering.

Steven Sack is the guest curator of KE LIHA PENE – I lay down my pen and Stephen Wessels was responsible for the photogrammetry work.

Access the virtual exhibition on

For more information about the exhibition, contact Esther Esmyol on 021 467 7205 or