African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Pfemba statuette
Statuette Pfemba Congo Yombe (N° 17761)
A sculpted miniature of the Kongo , this female effigy embodies the ancestor of the clan, a mediating figure, evidenced by the scarifications of the bust. The child within embodies the matrilineal transmission of power. The Yombe adorned their textiles, mats and loincloths, with diamonds in relation to proverbs glorifying work and social unity. The mouth reveals traditionally lined teeth, the eyes seem exorbitant, underlining the ancestor's ability to discern occult things. The use of this type of sculpture remains unknown. They were, however, a frequent form of the pattern carved at the top of the heads' canes. Dark brown patina, ochre residue. Fissures.br /Clan of the Kongo group, the Yombe established on the west coast of Africa, in the south-west of the Republic of Congo and in Angola. Their statuary includes remarkable maternity. The use of this type of sculpture remains unknown.
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Shach the Kongo, nganga was in charge of the rituals by activating a spiritual force with a nkondi (pl. nkissi). The term nkisi was then used to refer to the terms of 'sacred' or 'divine'. The most influential category of 'minkisi kongo' consisted of instruments to help regional leaders enforce the law. A metal object was nailed to a wooden figure as soon as a decision was made, each nail evoking a particular case: litigants, divorce, conflicts between communities... The nkondi wanted to ensure that the agreement to resolve the conflict was properly implemented, and that individuals feared the consequences of their behaviour. Its appearance thus personified the force residing there. From the second half of the 20th century, minkondi minkisi were strategically placed along the coasts of the Loango kingdom to protect against European incursions. Among the most powerful, the Mangaaka was considered the 'king' and 'master', supreme arbiter of conflicts and protector of communities, and who became the most ambitious and monumental sculptural genre.
Source: 'The Kongo Gesture' Ed. Dapper Museum and Treasures of Africa Tervuren Museum; The Soul of Africa Diakonoff.
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