African art > Statues > Chef Chokwe effigy
Chef Chokwe effigy (N° 11219)
Chockwe in African art.
Sculpté in a piece of monoxyle wood, the character is here perched on a circular pedestal, knees half bent. The prominence of the abdomen is enhanced by amplified hands, as are feet with exaggerated volume, indicating its power. It bears the head adornment of the Chokwe aristocrats, high and elaborate, with curved side fins. Its high, bulging forehead, accentuated by shaving hair, was once an ideal of beauty among the Chokwe. On the other hand, the sculptor has particularly cared for the musculature of his subject, which the smooth and shiny brown patina also enhances.
Paisiblely 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 sanctity of power. Nevertheless, the Chokwé never fully embraced these new social and political contributions. Three centuries later, they eventually seized the capital of the Lunda, weakened by internal conflicts, thus contributing to the dismantling of the kingdom. The Chokwé had no centralized power but great chiefdoms. They were the ones who attracted artists who wanted to put their know-how at the exclusive service of the court. The artists created so many varied pieces of such quality that the lunda court employed only them.