African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Phemba figure
Female figure Kongo Yombe Phemba (N° 19051)
Ex-German African art collection.
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The Solongo cultures of Angola and Yombé were largely influenced by the Kongo kingdom from which they borrowed naturalistic statuary and religious rites, particularly through nkondo nkisi.
This finely detailed female figure, wearing a dignitary's headdress, symbol of the mythical ancestor probably associated with fertility cults, is represented kneeling in an attitude of respect or supplication. Scarifications are scattered on her bust. These cuts, made with needles, knives and razors, were then coated with coal or ashes to accelerate healing and form prominent patterns. Abrasions. Matt patina.
In the 13th century, the Kongo people, led by their king Ne Kongo, settled in a region at the crossroads of the borders between the current DRC, Angola and Gabon. Two centuries later, the Portuguese came into contact with the Kongo and converted their king to Christianity. Although monarchical, the Kongo political system had a democratic aspect because the king was actually placed at the head of the kingdom following an election held by a council of tribal governors. The king, also known as ntotela, controlled the appointment of court and provincial officials. The nganga, both healers and healers, were in charge of religious activities and mediation towards the God called Nzambi through consecrated figures called nkisi .
Ref: "Maternity in the Art of Black Africa" Massa; "Tribal Art of Black Africa" Bacquart.
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