African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Kouyou figure
Totemic figure Kuyu, Kouyou (N° 20157)
Standing on a janiform base, this statue shows a female figure clutching a child to her chest. The scarifications refer to the scales of the mythical serpent Djo, who created the world and fathered Ebongo, the primordial hybrid ancestor of man. A granular polychrome patina, locally cracked, covers the whole fetish.
Two totemic clans once formed the Kuyu ethnic group, living along the river of the same name in the northwestern part of the People's Republic of the Congo: in the west that of the panther, and in the east that of the snake. A secret male association, Ottoté , played an important political role in the appointment of chiefs. The initiation of young men ended with the revelation of the serpent god Ebongo represented in the form of a head. The Kibe-kibe dances that accompanied the ceremony reactivated the successive stages of creation. The panther clan had a drum as its emblem. For its part, that of the snake had carved heads, painted in bright colors, on sticks that the manipulator, concealed under a long robe, held hands outstretched above the head.
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