210729 - Tribal used African Bakongo magic protection nail statue - Congo.
Tribal used African magic protection nail statue from the Bakongo, Congo.
Hand carved from a single piece of wood, with color pigments nails and glass eyes.
Height: 28 cm.
The Kongo may number about three million people.Present in three countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and the Congo Republic – the Kongo occupy the region at the mouth of the Congo River. Numerous subgroups go to form the vast Kongo cultural complex, among which are the Vili, the Woyo and the Yombe. These tribes produce a diversity of artistic styles, with Kongo art being one of the best known.
The Kongo demonstrate the extreme complexity of their traditions on major occasions, such as the investiture of a chief or at funerals. The Kongo pantheon was small: one all-powerful god who gave healing powers to the king, to the nganga, and to the heads of cults. Besides their textiles of great renown, the Kongo had a funerary art of decorated steles and funerary statues in stone, very often depicting the chief seated cross-legged in a posture of reflection. Some of these statues were placed on tombs to aid the spirits of the dead to join the world of the deceased.Wood sculptures represent royal wives, hunters, musicians, and healers. Their postures vary: sometimes they kneel in a position of respect, the head bent slightly backwards; women might be depicted seated with the child they hold by the neck or whom they are nursing. The cheeks are round, the face, carefully rendered, is realistic. The patina is smooth, the bust scarified. Elaborate geometrical patterns occur on the pedestal or the body, where they may be mingled with fine scarification marks. The figures were used to ward off danger to mothers during delivery and to protect the health of the child. The commemorative statues known as phemba were designed for women who had lost a child and wanted another. These carvings, generally sophisticated and very graceful, were thought to favor such a happy event.A maternity statue’s effectiveness depended on the dignity of the figure and its youth (shown by the firmness of the breasts) and the jewelry, which augmented its beauty and status.