African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Songye statue
Songye statue (N° 22536)
Belgian African art collection.
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African statue Nkisi, nkishi (pl. mankishi ) of the Songye, which has a head with the features of the kifwebe mask. The prominent abdomen is underlined by a belt followed by a vegetable fiber loincloth. The bishimba magic charge was probably introduced at the top of the head from which rises an animal horn. A second horn, attached to the necklace of the fetish, is also sometimes loaded with therapeutic ingredients. Shaded gray patina.
These protective fetishes for homes are among the most popular in Africa. The Nkisi plays the role of mediator between god and men, responsible for protecting against various evils. The large specimens are the collective property of an entire village, and the smaller figures belong to an individual or a family.
In the 16th century, the Songyes migrated from the Shaba region to settle on the left bank of the Lualaba. Their society is organized in a patriarchal way. Their history is inseparable from that of the Luba, to whom they are related through common ancestors. Very present in their society, divination made it possible to discover sorcerers and to shed light on the causes of the plagues that struck individuals. (ref.: Treasures of Africa, Museum of Tervuren, ed. De Vries-Brouwers; "Art and life in Africa" C.De Roy; "Le Sensible et la Force" ed. Royal Museum for Central Africa)