African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Bembe figure
Biteki Bembe, Béembé figure (N° 13472)
Ex-collection French tribal art.
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Beembé are appreciated in African art for the care and finishing of ancestor sculptures for fertility and healing rituals.
Figure male, legs spread half-flexed, with wide feet, which would be represented in the dance position. Intricate lyeloid tattoos are drawn in relief from the chest to the pubis. These scarifications bear witness to the successive stages of initiation to which an individual has been subjected. Sometimes set with ivory or earthenware, almond eyes are encrusted with light wood. Polished surface with a mahogany and brown patina. Lack on one of the feet. Black wooden base extra on request. Established on the plateaus of the People's Republic of Congo ex. Brazzaville, and not to be confused with the Bembé group north of Lake Tanganinyika, the small Babembé group, Béembé, was influenced by the Teké rites and culture, but especially by that of the Kongo.Settled in the present-day Republic of Congo, the Beembé were trained in originally the kingdom of Kongo, with the Vili, Yombé, Bwendé and Woyo. They were under the tutelage of King ntotela elected by the governors. The ivory, copper and slave trade were the main resources of this little-known group until colonization. The village leader, nga-bula, was responsible for interceding with the ancestors. Hunting being a major activity, ancestors were invoked through statuettes. These idealized representations of ancestors, kitebi or bimbi consecrated by the sorcerer, bore attributes of hunters or healers. Some of them, as in the Bakongo, were magical objects minkisi with nails and were equipped with holes in which medicines, bilongo, or relics of ancestors, were introduced.
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