Tribal art > African fetish > Solongo fetish
Solongo fetish (N° 21348)
Belgian African tribal art collection.
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Power betiches in African art.
This naturalistic figure has an oval face whose style is generally attributed to the Solongo of Angola, the latter supplying the Kongo clans. The glassy gaze of the pinheaded pupils is wide open which "constitutes the prerogative of an elder. Indeed, only people of mature age can stare at us with such insistence in order to alert us to problems or blunders."
The head of an enemy forms the base of the character. Placed on the abdomen, behind a glass, ingredients make up the magical charge, whose iron nails larding the piece reinforce the power. Clayey libatory residues have clumped on the surface, locally draped with textile strips.
Beautiful dark oiled patina, granular aggregates of kaolin.
In the Kongo kingdom, the nganga performed rituals by activating a spiritual force with a nkondi (pl. nkissi). The term nkisi was later used to refer to notions of "sacred" or "divine". The most influential category of "minkisi kongo" consisted of instruments to assist regional chiefs in enforcing the law. A metal object was nailed to a wooden figure as soon as a decision was made, each nail evoking a particular case: disputants, divorce, conflicts between communities...
The nkondi thus wanted to ensure that the agreement that was to settle the conflict was well enforced, and that individuals feared the consequences of their behavior. His appearance thus personified the force residing in it. From the second half of the twentieth century, minkisi minkondi were strategically placed along the coast of the Loango kingdom to protect against European incursions. Among the most powerful, the Mangaaka was considered the "king" and "master", supreme arbiter of conflicts and protector of communities, and became the most ambitious and monumental sculptural genre.
Source: "Le geste Kongo" Musée Dapper.