African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mangbetu statue

Male figure of Mangbetu ancestor (N° 21216)

Wearing the characteristic headdress of the Mangbetu aristocrats, this ancestor's effigy offers serene features. The large ears stand out. Oversized feet and long, slender arms contrast with the general morphology. Body paintings and scarifications, evoked by the geometric tracings, are those of the Asua pygmies with whom the tribe maintained relations. They varied according to the circumstances. The ancients call beli these figures of ancestors stored out of sight and comparable to those belonging to their secret society nebeli.
Among the Mangbetu from an early age, children underwent compression of the cranium held tightly by raffia ties. Later, young women would "knit" their hair on wicker strands and apply a headband to the forehead in order to make the hair stand out and form this particular headdress that accentuates the elongation of the head. Even the king wore a bun topped with a cylindrical headdress.

Smooth and satin patina. Erosions.  

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OriginEx-collection belge
EthnyMangbetu
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height52
Width13
Weight2.45 Kg

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