African art > African Statues > Statue Chokwe

Figure of Chef Tschokwe Chibinda Ilunga (N° 18997)

This statue, symbol of power, glorifies the ancestor and mythical hero founder of the ethnic group, Chibinda Ilunga. The chief, with oversized palms and feet, has an impressive noble headdress. Easily recognizable thanks to this large headdress with curved side wings (cipenya-mutwe) which was made of a wicker frame covered with fabric, brass, leather, and pearls, he had taught his people the art of hunting. The dignitaries presented themselves cross-legged in suits, which is confirmed by an African proverb: "The elder sitting cross-legged wishes to be greeted with respect" "By the allusion to the circle of his cross-legged legs, the chief conveys the blessings of a life in full orbit". ("The Kongo gesture", ed. Dapper Museum) The chief claps his hands as a sign of welcome and to signify his interest in an important subject. The repeated application of castor oil and coloring plant decoctions has given the sculpture a black patina.

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, the Chokwé eventually seized 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 chieftaincies. They were the ones that 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.  

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Originex-collection allemande
Material(s)wood, metal, perels, plant fibre
Weight3.70 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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