African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Chokwe fetish
Chokwe fetish (N° 22020)
Rising from a narrow platform, these couple figures represented back to back form a protective fetish.
The heads have been hollowed out to receive a magic charge.
The repeated application of castor oil and coloring plant decoctions gave the sculpture a very satiny black patina.
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Peacefully settled in eastern Angola until the 16th century, the Chokwé were then subjected to the Lunda empire from which they inherited a new hierarchical system and the sacredness of power. Nevertheless, the Chokwé never fully adopted these new social and political contributions. Three centuries later, they ended up seizing the capital of the Lunda weakened by internal conflicts, thus contributing to the dismantling of the kingdom. The Chokwé did not have centralized power but large chiefdoms. They were the ones who attracted artists wishing to put their know-how at the exclusive service of the court. The artists created so many varied pieces and of such quality that the Lunda court only employed them.
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