African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Mbala Insignia
A prestigious emblem for chefs, this figurative adze is coated with a velvety black patina and is extended by an unusual blade, the end of which is divided into two loops.
The face, carved in the heart, recalls the Kwese sculpture.
A crocodile figure, whose tail runs between heads rising in high relief, hugs the handle.
Coming from Angola in the 17th century, the Mbala settled in northwestern Zaire and to the east among the Pelende, Suku, Pende, and Yaka. Formerly matrilineal, they are made up of clans headed by the maternal uncle. The chief was in charge of the worship of the ancestors, however quite limited. Following a retreat of a few days, the royal insignia and charms were attributed to him, intended to fight the powers opposing hunting, social peace, and harvesting.