Prodigal Son

Material Information

Prodigal Son
Series Title:
Objects of instruction : treasures of SOAS
Kyalo, son of Ngila, Akamba peoples
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:
Gouache on paper ( medium )
H34 x W52.3 cm in


Subjects / Keywords:
Kamba (people) ( ethnologue )
Kamba (African people) ( lcsh )
Afrika -- Kenya -- Ukambani
Spatial Coverage:
Africa -- Kenya -- Ukambani
0 x 38


Painted in 1929 by Kyalo, son of Ngila of the Akamba people in the eastern province of Kenya, this is probably the earliest modernist painting by a non-coastal Kenyan in existence. Kyalo was a carver who helped Margaret Trowell, the pioneer art educator of East Africa, in her initial teaching efforts among the Kamba in Kenya. Kyalo offered information about carving, and in exchange learnt to paint. This set of images tells the narrative of the Prodigal Son cast in Kyalo’s own personal terms whereby cattle are highly valued, not simply for the sustenance they offer, but as central to a pastoral ethos that dominated the local environment. The movements of people and animals through the landscape are expressed in the rhythmic patterns of each image. Trowell encouraged her students to exploit rhythm and pattern in composition rather than be concerned with European forms of perspective (Text by Charles Gore, from the exhibition catalogue: Objects of instruction : treasures of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Anna Contadini, Editor. London : SOAS, University of London, 2007.) ( en )
General Note:
The 'Objects of instruction : the treasures of SOAS' exhibition was funded through a generous gift from the Foyle Foundation and with the support of the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
General Note:
Source: A. Contadini (ed.), Objects of instruction : treasures of the School of Oriental and African Studies. London : SOAS, University of London, 2007. Listed as item number: 93

Record Information

Source Institution:
SOAS, University of London
Holding Location:
Brunei Gallery
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.