African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Bembé
Female figure Bwendé, Bembé (N° 19742)
This female figure with horn-set eyes is linked to fertility rites. The body is treated in rounded, stocky volumes, carried by oversized feet firmly anchored. The keloidal tattoos testify to the successive stages of initiation to which the individual has been subjected.
Maroon brown patina.
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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 Babembe group was influenced by the rites and culture of the Teke, but especially by that of the Kongo. Settled in the present-day Republic of Congo, the Béembé originally formed the Kongo kingdom, along with the Vili, Yombé, Bwendé and Woyo. They were under the tutelage of the king ntotela elected by the governors. The ivory trade, copper and slaves were the main resources of this little-known group until colonization.The village leader, nga-bula, was responsible for interceding with the ancestors. Hunting was a major activity and the ancestors were invoked through statuettes. These idealized representations of ancestors, kitebi or bimbi consecrated by the sorcerer, bore attributes of hunters or even healers. Some of them, as among the Bakongo, were magical objects minkisi comprising nails and which were equipped with orifices into which medicines, bilongo , or relics of ancestors, were introduced .
Litt. : "Statuaire Babembé" R. Lehuard et A. Lecomte.
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