African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mbala figure
Ex. Belgian African tribal art collection.
Among the many statues of the Mbalas, this type of statuette was part of the "pindi", sculptures integrating the chief's treasure.
Small stocky character, hands joined under the chin, it has characteristics also kwésé, including the scarified features of the face. Grainy patina, cracks of desiccation.
The Mbala came from Angola in the 17th century and settled in northwestern Zaire and in the east among the Pende, Suku, Pende, and Yaka. Formerly matrilineal, they were clans led by the maternal uncle. The chief was in charge of the ancestor cult, although it was quite limited. Following a retreat of a few days, royal insignia and charms were given to him, intended to combat powers opposing the hunt, social peace, and the harvest. ...