African art > African Statues > Mangbetu figure
Female figure Mangbetu Nebeli (N° 19056)
Female figure with a large head. The body tracings, like those of the face, represent the traditional paintings of the ethnic group, inspired by the tattoos of the neighboring Asua pygmies, and which varied according to the circumstances. Among the Mangbetu, from a very young age, the children of the upper classes were subjected to a compression of the skull, kept tight by raffia ties. Later, the hair was "knitted" on wicker strands and a headband was placed around the forehead in order to bring out the hair and form this majestic headdress accentuating the elongation of the skull. The ancients called beli anthropomorphic figures embodying ancestors, stored out of sight, and comparable to those belonging to their secret society nebeli .
Black oiled patina, abrasions, eroded foot tips.
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The Mangebetu kingdom in northern Congo produced architectural works that impressed European visitors in the 19th century. Their furniture, weapons, ornaments and statuary were imbued with a rare aesthetic quality. The ethnologist G.A. Schweinfurth in 1870 described their symmetry and refinement, while at the same time testifying to the ritual murders and human sacrifices practiced by "the people of the elongated heads".
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|Country||rdc ex zaire|
|Estimated dating||2ème halfxx°|
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