African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Bembe fetish
Bembe fetish (N° 21952)
French African art collection.
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Beembé are valued in African tribal art for the care and finishing given to ancestor carvings for fertility and healing rituals.
Male figure, legs apart and slightly bent, with large feet. Intricate keloid tattoos are drawn in relief from the chest to the pubis. These scarifications testify to the successive stages of initiation to which an individual has been subjected. Sometimes set with ivory or earthenware, the almond-shaped eyes are encrusted with it. Polished surface with a mahogany and brown patina.
Black wooden base extra on request.
Established on the plateaus of the People's Republic of Congo, ex. Brazzaville, and not to be confused with the Bembe group from the north of Lake Tanganinyika, the small Babembé group, Béembé, was influenced by Téké rites and culture, but above all by that of the Kongo. Settled in the current Republic of Congo, the Béembé originally formed the kingdom of Kongo, with the Vili, Yombé, Bwendé and Woyo. They were under the tutelage of king ntotela elected by the governors. The trade in ivory, copper and slaves were the main resources of this little-known group until colonization. The head of the village, nga-bula, was responsible for interceding with the ancestors. Hunting being a major activity, the ancestors were invoked through statuettes. These idealized representations of ancestors, kitebi or bimbi consecrated by the sorcerer, sported the attributes of hunters or healers. Some of them, as among the Bakongo, were minkisi magic objects comprising nails and which were endowed with orifices into which medicines, bilongo, or relics of ancestors, were introduced.