African art > African Statues > Congo figure
Maternity figure Pfemba Kongo (N° 19087)
Ex-collection Italian African tribal art.
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>Tribal sculpture Kongo depicting a woman sitting cross-legged, supporting a child. She embodies the ancestor of the clan, a mediating figure. The Yombe adorned their textiles, mats and loincloths, with diamond patterns related to proverbs glorifying work and social unity, such as those that dot her bust. The mouth shows traditionally filed teeth and the gaze indicates the ancestor's ability to perceive the beyond, to discern hidden things.
This type of statuette also adorned the top of the canes of prestige, mwala.
Golden brown satin patina. Cracks and abrasions.
Belonging to the group Kongo , the Yombe are established on the West African coast, in the southwest of the Republic of Congo and Angola. Their statuary includes remarkable maternity wards.
Among the Kongo , the nganga took care of the rituals by activating a spiritual force with a nkondi (pl. nkissi). The term nkisi was then used to refer to the notions of "sacred" or "divine". The most influential category of "minkisi kongo" consisted of instruments designed to help regional chiefs enforce the law. A metal object was nailed to a wooden figure as soon as a decision was made, each nail evoking a particular case: parties in dispute, divorce, conflicts between communities, etc. The nkondi wanted to ensure that the agreement to resolve the conflict was enforced and that individuals feared the consequences of their behavior. Its appearance thus personified the force residing there. From the second half of the twentieth century, minkisi minkondi were strategically placed along the coasts of the Loango kingdom to protect against European incursions. Among the most powerful, the Mangaaka was considered the "king" and "master", supreme arbiter of conflicts and protector of communities, and became the most ambitious and monumental sculptural genre. Source: "The Kongo gesture" Ed. Dapper Museum and "Treasures of Africa" Tervuren Museum.
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