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Tribal art > African Statues > Mangbetu figure

Female Mangbetu figure (N° 20821)

Classic Mangbetu canons but a great sensitivity in the treatment of this small female sculpture. A carrying strap made of vegetable fibers is also attached to the character's ears. The body tracings, like those of the face, represent the traditional paintings of the ethnic group, inspired by the tattoos of the neighboring Asua pygmies, and which varied according to the circumstances.
Among the Mangbetu, from an early age, children of the upper classes had their skulls compressed and held tight by raffia ties. Later, the hair was "knitted" on strands of wicker and a headband wrapped around the forehead to bring out the hair and form this majestic headdress accentuating the elongation of the skull. The ancients called beli anthropomorphic figures embodying ancestors, stored out of sight, and comparable to those belonging to their secret society nebeli . Satin brown patina with mahogany highlights, the wood grain appears in the lighter areas.
The Mangebetu kingdom in northern Congo produced architectural works that impressed European visitors in the 19th century. Their furniture, weapons, ornaments and statuary were marked by a rare aesthetic quality. The ethnologist G.A. Schweinfurth in 1870 described their symmetry and refinement, while at the same time witnessing the ritual murders and human sacrifices practiced by "the people of the elongated heads".  

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OriginCollection Jean-Emmanuel Voltz
EthnyMangbetu
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height41
Width10
Weight1.10 Kg

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