African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Mangbetu
Statue Mangbetu (N° 13509)
African art Mangbetu.
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Body paintings and scarifications, evoked by geometric tracings, run across the face and body of this primitive art figure. Very large ears are to be noted, as well as an extrusion of the pupils probably linked to the trance caused by mediumistic invocations. The tribal fan-shaped hairstyle is characteristic of Mangbetu women: from a very young age, the children had their skulls compressed by means of raffia ties. Later, young women would "knit" their hair onto strands of wicker and apply a headband to the forehead in order to extract the hair and produce this particular headdress that accentuates the elongation of the head.
The ancients call beli these figures of ancestors stored out of sight and comparable to those belonging to their secret society nebeli .
Established in the forest in northeastern Zaire,the Mangebetu kingdom expressed itself through architectural works that impressed European visitors in the 19th century. Their furniture, weapons, ornaments and statuary were imbued with a rare aesthetic quality.
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