ACCLAIMED artist Jackson Xodokani Hlungwani, 99, was born at Kanyani village near Elim.
Hlungwani, pictured, was the first son of N'wamathadani and Mdan'wazi Hlungwani.
The elder Hlungwani was a migrant worker and big game hunter. He died a week before Hlungwani was born into a prosperous Tsonga family in 1923.
His death has left a vacuum in South African art when he died at his home at Mbokota near Makhado in Limpopo last week. He was especially known in the art industry for his carvings depicting fish and themes around them.
Hlungwani began carving full-time after losing a finger during an industrial accident.
He started his working life at a tender age as a farmworker at Bethal in Brits, North West.
Hlungwani's upbringing differed little from other Tsonga boys, but proved invaluable when he later formulated his religious ideas and began making art.
The countryside, as he herded his father's longhorn cattle, was the perfect environment in which to come to grips with nature.
He studied rivers, the movement of fish, plants, wildlife, the climate, the cosmos and, in due course, amalgamated what he observed with teaching about the traditional ancestral world.
Hlungwani's first major exhibition was in 1985 and his works are included in the Irma Stern Museum, South African National Gallery, universities of of Cape Town, South Africa, Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Thatham Art Gallery, Sandton Convention Centre and institutions in the US, Japan and Europe.
Hlungwani is survived by his wife Mamaila Magdalen, five children, 34 grandchildren and seven great-grand children.
He will be buried in Mbokota tomorrow at 7am.