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Tribal art - African Statues:

In the tradition, the statue allows to represent what is invisible. In bronze in the kingdom of Benin, arms raised towards the sky by the Dogon to invoke rain, fetishes in the Congo, statues are the art of African blacksmiths. Sometimes worked on malleable wood, the statuary represents dolls, twins or even ancestors, with sometimes hard, elongated features and sour contours. The figures are raised, seated, with their arms close to their bodies or towards the heavens.

Dogon figure
Tribal art > African Statues > Dogon figure

Statuette representing a kneeling hermaphrodite figure, hands resting on his thighs. This type of sculpture associated with an individual cult adorned the Dogon family altar. Thick and dense grainy patina in greyish browns.
Carved for the most part on commission by a family, Dogon statues can also be the object of worship by the entire community. Their functions remain little known, however. In parallel with Islam, Dogon religious rites are organized around four main cults: the Lebe, relating to fertility, under the spiritual authority of the Hogon, the Wagem, the cult of the ancestors under the authority of the patriarch, the Binou invoking the world of the spirits and directed by the priest of the Binou, and the society of the masks concerning funerals.

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Ifé Yoruba commemorative head in bronze
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Tribal art > African bronze > Ifé bronze

Figurative bronze depicting the Oni, king of Ife the cradle city of the Yoruba, wearing a highly detailed crown. Nowadays the king of Ifé wears a similar badge of office, formed by a vertical braided segment ending in a pointed bulge. Such a head was attached to the top of a dressed wooden effigy to represent the deceased king at the funeral and then buried after the ceremony in a shrine near the palace. Grainy texture, greenish-black patina encrusted with ochre. The city of Ifé in Nigeria was in the 15th century the center of a powerful forest state west of the Niger Delta. The work of bronze was a prerogative of the king "oni", according to the technique of lost wax. These prestigious objects embodying the rulers were placed on the royal altars for ceremonial use. It would be an ...

Senoufo sculpted figure from Côte d Ivoire
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Senoufo

This African sculpture combines an animal figure with a curved back under the weight of a cup, and a monkey whose name is aboya , or mbotumbo enthroned at the top. These sculptures were once associated with a cult that was forbidden to women and reserved for blacksmiths. Among the Baoulé , this cult, the Mbra, required the sacrifice of a dog, which the Guro and the Senoufo also practiced. These figures indeed evoke powerful spirits of nature bonu amuin linked to virility and whose energy should be channeled through rituals involving sacrificial offerings. These statues were held by soothsayers possessed by the spirit the object was meant to embody. The Senoufos, the name given to them by French settlers, are mostly composed of farmers who dispersed between Mali, Ivory Coast, and ...

Dogon Tellem statue
Tribal art > African Statues > Dogon statue

This traditional African art sculpture, a wooden form from which elements of a couple emerge, was placed on the family altar Tiré Kabou. African tribal statues of the Dogon can also be the object of worship by the entire community when they commemorate, for example, the founding of the village. These statues, sometimes embodying the nyama of the deceased, are placed on ancestor altars and participate in various rituals including those of the seed and harvest periods. Their functions, however, remain little known. Influenced stylistically by the Tellem (or "those who were before" in the Dogon language) whom they replaced in the Bandiagara region from the 15th century, the Dogon adopted a similar vertical position in their statuary. Inheritors of the works such asm abandoned in the ...

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Statue of Congo Nkishi
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue of Congo

Removable arms, fixed horizontally, give a defensive attitude to this Kongo fetish. It is also fitted with an abdominal cavity. Magical ingredients (bilongo), for therapeutic or protective purposes, were to be introduced by the nganga . The Vili produced a variety of sculptures for individual use nkisi , to which multiple virtues were attributed. Wide-eyed eyes symbolize foresight in a face wearing a flat hat. A red textile, highlighted with a nailing, drapes the bust, abdomen and skirt. Patine mate.
The Vili, the Lâri, the Sûndi, the Woyo, the Bembé, the Bwende, the Yombé and the Kôngo formed the group Kôngo , led by King ntotela. Their kingdom reached its peak in the 16th century with the ivory, copper and slave trade. Similarly, beliefs and traditions, they produced a statuary ...

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Bambara Nyeleni callipyge statue
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Tribal art > African Statues > Bambara statue

An austere, angular face, overlooking a body articulated around globular masses, such is this statue Bambara, named 'little favorite', Nyeleni in Bambara. Black greasy patina, ochre inlays. Slight cracks and abrasions.
The Bambara of central and southern Mali belong to the large Mande group, like the Soninke and Malinke. They believe in the existence of a creative god generically called Ngala and who maintains the order of the universe. Its existence coexists with another androgynous god called Faro, who has given all the qualities to men and who grows the fruits of the earth. Large masked festivals close the initiation rites of the association dyo and the ritual of gwan s bambara in the south of the Bambara country. Spread over a seven-year period for men, they are less demanding ...

Dogon couple of ancestors
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Tribal art > African Statues > Dogon statue

These protective mythical figures probably evoke the primordial couple or mythical twins, associated with the Nommos, at the origin of Dogon creation. Sitting on a semicircular base, they present a narrow morphology contrasting with a shell-like chest. The heads show a Bambara influence. Thick granular patina, satin surface. Ochre residue, powdery, on the base. Carved for the most part on commission by a family, Dogon statues can also be the object of worship by the entire community when they commemorate, for example, the founding of the village. However, little is known about their functions. In parallel with Islam, Dogon religious rites are organized around four main cults: the Lebe, relating to fertility, under the spiritual authority of the Hogon, the Wagem, ancestor ...

Chamba Figure Couple
Tribal art > African Statues > Statues Chamba

Emblems of male associations, these narrow figures that a common base connects stand vertically. The diamond-shaped arms envelop a tubular bust surmounted by short crenellated legs. The neck rises towards a head with prominent features, wearing a rounded crest like a helmet. The crest is extended by braids that frame the face. Granular black patina, locally flaked.
Better known for their buffalo masks, the Chamba communicated with the spirit world through these statues. However, their functions remain little known. Settled since the seventeenth century on the southern bank of the Benue River in Nigeria, coming from the mountainous regions of the Cameroonian borders, the Chamba resisted the conquest attempts of the Fulani, nomads who settled in large numbers in northern ...

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Tabwa ancestor figure
Tribal art > African Statues > Tabwa statue

A figure of an ancestor or clan leader, this perosnnage perched on a circular seat bears the facial and body scarifications of the Batabwa clans.
Golden patina, cracks and abrasions.
The Tabwa ("scarify" and "write") are an ethnic group found in southeastern DRC, around Lake Tanganyika. Tribes in this region, such as the Tumbwe , worship ancestors mipasi through carvings held by chiefs or sorcerers. A magical charge ( dawa )was frequently inserted atop the statues' heads. The diviners-healers used this type of object to reveal sorcery and protect against malevolent spirits.
Simple farmers without centralized power, the Tabwa federated around tribal chiefs after having been influenced by the Luba. It was mainly during this period that their artistic ...

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Reliquary keeper of the Byeri Fang
Tribal art > African Statues > Fang statue

Eket sculptural art spread via the lagoon to neighboring countries. Its influence can be seen on the face of this statue sculpted by the Fang of Cameroon, which was intended to be placed in a reliquary basket by the rear stalk. Very thick oily patina, locally lumpy. Missing at the level of a foot, cracks of desiccation.
The boxes containing the relics of illustrious ancestors were guarded by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". Surmounted by a statue or a head that acted as a guardian of the "byeri" boxes, they were stored in a dark corner of the hut, supposed to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to the "So" society. During the festivals, the statues were separated from their boxes and carried in ...

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Female figure Sakalava
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Sakalava

Ex-collection Belgian African art.
The tropical island of Madagascar is located off the coast of Mozambique. Its first inhabitants are said to have been Polynesians who have taken refuge on the east coast of Africa, but have been repelled by Arab-Muslim traders. Several kingdoms developed there as early as 1500, including Sakalava on the west coast of the island. The most famous plastic achievements of the Malagasy consist of a statuary linked to funeral rites. While the Mahafaly statues were an integral part of pillars aloalo, fragments of panels above the heads bearing witness, the figures of ancestors Sakalava, in round-bump, frequently represent the deceased and his companion of the opposite sex. The north-east of the tomb, sacred position associated with the aurora, the ...

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Statue ritual jukun
Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Jukun

It is during funerals, agricultural festivals or in case of danger that this type of carved figures are exposed in the north of the Benoue river. Their role is that of mediator between the afterlife and the priest. The flat, rectangular head appears to be wearing a helmet with distended ears and pupils that form the only projection of the face. The hands rest on the hips in a circular plateau, while part of the legs are eroded. Dark patina, residue clayey. Abrasions and desiccation cracks.
The Jukuns are a West and Central African population living mainly in Nigeria in the upper Benue Valley, also in north-west Cameroon. With the expansion of the former Jukun Empire, the Jukun or Wurbo of Nigeria have scattered into two groups: one settled south of the Donga River, ...

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Attié female statue
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Attié

This fine-deed statue has a body free of ethnic scarifications. The ovoid head, with an internalized appearance, is haloed with a braided hull. The curved arms are extended from hands to shells resting on the rounded hips of the legs firmly anchored. Glossy, dark patina.
The Attié are a lagoon population, located in the east of Côte d'Ivoire, and belongs to the large Akan group. The latter also includes the Ebrié and Abouré. The artistic achievements of these different ethnic groups thus possess a similar aesthetic. The Attié, of Akye-Fo, "the holders of the blade", are divided according to the north and the south. This ethnic group lives mainly from palm oil production and the harvest of yam, banana and maize. Artifacts made by the Attié ethnic group were used in ceremonies and ...

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Statue pestle Deble Senoufo
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Senoufo

Slender proportions for this masculine sculpture of the Poro, whose hands placed in a fan on either side of the lower abdomen evoke equine hooves. The stretched neck, under the concave face with fine features, reinforces the majestic character of this being with certain zoomorphic features. Gracilic, the legs spread apart and barely bent disappear in a high base named "sedine" or "dol" according to the dialect. Dark brown satin> Senoufos, the name given to them by French settlers, are mostly composed of farmers who have dispersed between Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. Councils of elders, headed by an elected chief, administer the Senoufo villages. Governed by matrilineal traditions, they are composed of clusters of dwellings named katiolo. Each of them has its own ...

Nana Yakoma Ovimbundu anthropomorphic tobacco pot
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Angola

This exceptional sculpted, stylized female figure features a container on the back with metallic sheets on the back. Parallel legs are like tied at the ankles by copper wire. The digitized hands are gathered at the bust, under the breasts of a young girl. In the rectangular volume of the legs evoking a loincloth, a deep orifice has been arranged. Circular facial scarifications can sometimes be found in neighbouring Chokwe and Luena. The character is said to be associated with the mythical ancestor "nana yakoma", guardian of the sacred fire. This type of sculpture was reserved for the exclusive use of chefs. It is on the Benguéla plateau in Angola that the Ovimbudu , Ovimbundu, composed of farmers and herders, have been established for several centuries. They belong to Bantu speakers, such ...

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Figure of reliquary Fang of Byeri
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Fang

Ex-french African art collection.
Anthropic figure guardian of the reliquary containing the bones of the deceased, on which it was recorded by the posterior stalk. This concave-faced statue has a stretched bust in which the umbilical stands out and atrophied limbs. Its long neck is surrounded by a metal torque, with apotropaic virtues. The umbilical lozenge and the geometric representation of sex are associated with parentage. The hollowed-out orbits give a psychic look to the figure. The black brown patina, smooth and oiled, blends locally.
A disturbing reputation for cannibals accompanied the Fang people, carefully studied by ethnologist Louis Perrois. Rituals and ceremonies related to the worship of Theby also included taking a hallucinogenic drug, alan , in order to ...

Figure masculine Chamba
Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Chamba

Better known for their buffalo masks, worn horizontally, forming here the head of this sculpture, the Chambas communicated with the spirit world through statues. However, their functions remain little known. This protective figure has arms bent forward, and fingers spread out like palms. The legs, spread out in the extension of the hands, impart a particular dynamic. Crusty brown patina with reddish reflections. Cracks of desiccation, missing on one foot.
Settled since the seventeenth century on the southern bank of the Benue River in Nigeria, coming from the mountainous regions of the Cameroonian borders, The Chamba resisted the attempts to conquer the Fulani, nomads who settled in large numbers in northern Nigeria. They are known for their famous buffalo mask with its ...

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Statuette Metoko
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statuette Metoko

The African art of the forest tribes.
Initiation figure of the Bukota society, probably a variant of the "kakungu" effigy, this rare reworked statuette without arms offers a leather-corse bust. Dark oiled patina, residual incrustations of white and ochre pigments on the face.
This cult male effigy comes from the Metoko and Lengola, located in the center of the Congolese basin between the Lomami and Lualaba rivers, peoples of the primary forest dedicated to the worship of a single God, monotheism rare in Africa. Their society , the Bukota , welcoming both men and women, is the equivalent of the association Bwami of the Lega. Their sculptures, subject to the influence of the neighboring Mbole, Lega and Binja, played a role during initiation, funeral or circumcision ...

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Igbo or Eket Dance Crest
Tribal art > African mask > Igbo Mask

Endowed with a morphology with both feminine and masculine characters, this statue is erected on a base overhanging a calotte mask. The semi-flexed legs, however, evoke the tribal dance mbombo of the young girls during the Ogbom ceremonies, held before the altar at the close of the periods of seclusion. This danced ritual was dedicated to the deity of the earth named Ala among the Igbo, and Isong among the Ibibio . The crest masks were then kept near the chimney flues of the huts in order to be protected from insects. Thick cracked patina, colored highlights, localized abrasions. Old break on the nose and cracks.
The Eket , established in southeastern Nigeria, are a subgroup of the Ibibio ethnic group renowned for their expressive masks. They are a patrilineal society whose ...

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Statue pestle Debele Senoufo
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Senoufo

The Ivory Coast in African tribal art Slender morphology and accentuated arching for this male figure with an oblong face. His slender legs sink into a base forming a drumstick called "sedine" or "dol" depending on the dialect. The necklace-talisman is called "korte". Satin shaded patina, abrasions and desiccation cracks.

Figurative statue Debele Senoufo, sometimes called "Child of the Poro" or "Spirit of the Bush", it intervened in pairs during funeral processions or during ceremonies marking the end of initiation rites. The initiates of the Poro society, which trained boys from the age of 7, carried them and pounded the ground rhythmically to the sound of drums, opening and closing the march. Kept in an enclosure, sezing ,they were supposed to protect these young ...

Men s statuette Metoko Kakungu
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Tribal art > African Statues > Statue Metoko

This male figure was kept in the hut of future circumcisers. It represents kakungu , a mythical being whose bulging eyes indicate that he would have been a victim of witchcraft. The engraved lines, encrusted with kaolin, evoke the traditional tattoos and scarifications in use. This carved figure was displayed alongside a similar female figure.
Kakungu cult statue belonging to the Metoko and Lengola, primary forest peoples dedicated to the worship of a single God, a rare monotheism in Africa. Their society comprising three ranks, the Bukota, structured daily life and accommodated both men and women. It represents the equivalent of the Bwami association of the Lega. The sculptures played a role during initiation ceremonies, and were then placed on the tomb of high rank initiates. ...

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