210840 - Extremely Rare Old & Tribal used African Vili statue with glass eyes - Gabon.
Extremely Rare Old & Tribal used African glass eyes Vili statue - Gabon.
Total height: 56 cm.
This statue was collected between 1920 and 1940 and ended up in my private collection in 1992.
The Vili people are Central African ethnic group, established in southwestern Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It's a subgroup of Bantu and Kongo peoples.
With the Yombe, the Lumbu, the Vungu, the Punu and the Kugni, they lived harmoniously within the former Kingdom of Loango. They have even developed with the Kugni, the Bundiku, a good neighborly relationship to avoid conflicts.
The Vili culture is rich in a secular history, a Matrilineality society which is the foundation of a Vili language full of nuances where proverbs have a prominent place. of an original measurement system, of a spirituality whose Nkisi, Nkisi Konde or nail fetishes are the famous physical representation. These artifacts are "commentaries by themselves". They provide keys to the understanding of creativity and identity that prevailed at the time of their creation.
While abundant documentation exists concerning the history of the Kingdom of Kongo, the Kingdom of Loango is much less documented by the written sources.
The Vili have very early maintained relations of equal to equal with the Westerners, especially in trade. However, this contact with the west and engagement in the slave trade enriched a tiny minority at the cost of upsetting the societal structure of the Vili. The epidemics of trypanosomiasis and smallpox further drastically decreased the population of this people.
Depending on the source and context, there are several forms: Bavili, Bavilis, Fiote, Ivili, Loango, Vilis. The term fiote ("black"), used by Portuguese settlers, is now considered pejorative. The term of Vili also refers to their cultures, and traditions.
The Vili, as well as the Yombe (ethnically closest cultural and geographically to Vili people), the Lumbu, the Vungu, the Punu and the Kugni, formed the ethnic components of the ancient kingdom of Loango. There were also intermingling with pygmy populations of the Babenzi, the Binga or Baka.
In the sixteenth century, the Bawoyo dynasty, which belongs to the mighty Brotherhood of Blacksmiths of the Buvandji, led by Njimbe, and based on an army of warriors, is imposed on the local people on the coast of Loango. According to several sources, such as the English explorer Andrew Battel, present in the region around 1610, the Dutchman Olfert Dapper, as well as the English trader R.E. Dennett, Njimbe would be the founder of the Kingdom of Loango and his first sovereign with a Reign that would have lasted about sixty years.
Vili sculptures have been appreciated by important collectors, among these the Paris artist, Henri Matisse, whose Vili figure left a critical impact on Pablo Picasso in his early African period in 1906.