African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Kongo statue
Kongo statue (N° 20880)
The Solongo cultures of Angola and Yombé were largely influenced by the Kongo kingdom from which they borrowed their naturalistic statuary and religious rites, in particular by means of nkondo nkisi carved fetishes.
This naturalist figure wearing a dignitary's headdress, a symbol of the mythical ancestor probably associated with fertility cults, is represented seated, legs crossed. This posture was adopted by dignitaries during important meetings. The arms behind the back would symbolize the restraint, attention and reflection that a problem requires.
Black oiled patina. Crack.
In the thirteenth century, the Kongo people, led by their king Ne Kongo, settled in a region at the crossroads of present-day DRC, Angola and Gabon. Two centuries later, the Portuguese came into contact with the Kongo and converted their king to Christianity. Although monarchical, the Kongo political system had a democratic aspect because the king was actually placed at the head of the kingdom following an election held by a council of tribal governors. This king, also called ntotela, controlled the appointment of court and provincial officials. The nganga, at the same time healers, were in charge of religious activities and mediation towards the God called Nzambi through consecrated figures called nkisi.
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Ref : "La Maternité dans l'art d'Afrique noire" Massa ; "l'Art tribal d'Afrique noire" Bacquart.