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Tribal art > African bronze > Kongo Crucifix

Kongo Crucifix (N° 20280)

Among Kongo chiefs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the crucifix stood as a symbol of power and authority among chieftaincy regalia. A ceremony at the investiture of the chief required that the future ruler receive from the hands of a dignitary, in a codified ritual, a nkangi kiditu . This badge of power, inspired by ancient Christian crucifixes imported by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, could also have a therapeutic function, and, in addition to various uses, was brandished at funeral ceremonies during which the object was subjected to libations of oil or palm wine.
The cross would not be a motif specific to the Christian world, as the Kongo considered the four branches to refer to the cycle of human existence. The Kongo also used an initiation ceremony, the kimpasi , in which the aspirant was subjected to a symbolic "death" and then "resurrection." The Kongo applied their worldview to this originally Christian symbol by adapting it to their values.
Source: "Du Jourdain au Congo" ed. Flammarion; "Art sans pareil" ed. Julien Volper.  

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OriginCollection P. Malisse
Countryrdc ex zaire
Height cm26
Width15 cm
Weight1.20 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°

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